Gold down but off lows after Wall St opening

LONDON - Gold was softer on Friday but recovered from a more than 1 percent dip earlier in the day, as Wall Street equities opened lower and the dollar retreated from session highs.

By (Reuters)

Published: Fri 18 Jul 2008, 9:35 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:52 PM

Spot gold eased to $957.40/958.40 an ounce at 1438 GMT from $962.10/963.10 an ounce late in New York on Thursday, having earlier slipped as low as $949.50 an ounce.

The precious metal slipped to a one-week low in early afternoon trade after better-than-expected earnings from the U.S.' largest bank, Citigroup, boosted the dollar and sent equity markets higher in Europe.

But a dip in stocks when Wall Street opened, as the market reacted to disappointing earnings from Microsoft and Google released after the bell on Thursday, boosted interest in the metal as an alternative investment to equities.

"In the last few weeks, where the equity markets started to tumble, gold has started to shoot up, so there has been a good link," said Standard Chartered analyst Dan Smith.

"Safe haven buying of gold, and to some extent silver, has been in evidence."

The dollar also came off highs against the euro, having rallied against a basket of currencies earlier in the session after the Citigroup news.

Gold tends to benefit from a weaker dollar, as it is often bought as a hedge against currency weakness.

The other main external driver of gold, oil, was lacklustre. New York crude futures have dropped around 12 percent from the record high of $147.27 they hit at the end of last week, despite a small bounce on Friday.

Weaker oil prices tend to drag gold lower, both because the precious metal is often bought as an inflation hedge and because softer crude can weaken interest in commodities as a whole.

Other commodities such as copper, aluminium and wheat were also lower.

Platinum slides

Spot platinum slipped on Friday for a fifth successive day, after supply fears linked to an electricity shortage in South Africa receded.

The South African treasury said it will lend the state-owned power utility Eskom 10 billion rand in the 2008/09 financial year to help it expand its generating capacity.

Eskom already helped ease supply fears on Thursday, after it said it does not expect further power cuts in the republic this season.

An electricity shortage in South Africa, which produces four out of five ounces of global platinum supply, sent the white metal to an all-time high of $2,290 an ounce in March as investors worried about the outlook for production.

However, with supply fears receding, traders are switching their attention to the demand picture.

Prices have fallen around $170 an ounce, or 8.5 percent, from late last Friday as the market factors in a weaker picture for the U.S. auto market this year.

Platinum is a major component in autocatalysts, and any reduction in car manufacturing is likely to weaken demand.

"From both a demand and supply perspective, the fundamental picture has turned more bearish than was the case in (the first half of) 2008," said Standard Bank analyst Walter de Wet in a note from Johannesberg.

"We reiterate that high energy prices and lower demand for motor vehicles, combined with signs that supply disruptions from power cuts are unlikely, should prevent a platinum rally."

Spot platinum fell to $1,855.00/1,865.00 an ounce from $1,881.00/1,901.00 late in New York on Thursday, having hit a session low of $1,836.50, its weakest level since May 2.

Among other precious metals, spot palladium slipped to $417.00/422.00 an ounce from $420.00/428.00 an ounce, while silver edged down to $18.32/18.37 an ounce from $18.39/18.48 late in New York.

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