Gold firm, takes cue from euro, eyes Greece
LONDON - Gold rose in Europe on Wednesday, influenced by a stronger euro and firmer base metals as the market leant towards its commodity-specific properties, with investors waiting for further clarity on Greece and the wider euro zone economy.
The single currency gained traction against the dollar after China said it would continue investing in euro zone debt, although further gains looked dependent on whether Greek leaders signed a commitment to implement tough austerity measures.
Data released earlier showed the euro zone economy had shrunk by 0.3 in the last three months of 2011, with the sovereign debt crisis crushing a recovery, but a north-south divide was evident as France grew while Italy slumped.
Mitsubishi analyst Matthew Turner said the growth data was stronger than some had expected.
“This has raised hopes that if Q1 (2012) is also better than expected then perhaps there won’t be the deep recession everyone fears.”
Spot gold was quoted at $1,726.29 per ounce, up 0.4 percent on the day. Benchmark COMEX gold futures stood at $1,728.70, up $11.0.
More broadly, Turner noted that a scenario of Greece leaving the euro area was uncharted territory, while an improvement in the overall economic backdrop would need specific characteristics for gold to make further gains.
“It was the case last year that gold didn’t do very well on bad news that was deflationary, whereas it does do well on bad economic news that is inflationary,” Turner said.
“Gold might struggle a little bit if things do get better but I’m skeptical that they will get much better. I think perhaps we’ll see a slowdown in the economy again in Q2, Q3 and that might start to raise hopes of more Q.E.”
Injecting cash into the economy with quantitative easing is gold-friendly as it supports ultra low interest rates.
Technical analysis suggested spot gold could fall to $1,698 an ounce during the day.
Hedge fund manager and long-time gold bull John Paulson cut his gold ETF bullion holdings by about $600 million in the fourth quarter, a second straight reduction that was likely driven by client redemption needs as he remained upbeat on the metal.
However, Paulson’s selling in the SPDR Gold Trust was more than offset by buying by other investors, reflecting long-term confidence in gold.
“In the long run, the euro zone debt crisis is still supportive of gold,” said Hou Xinqiang, an analyst at Jinrui Futures based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.
“In the short term, gold is due to stay in consolidation mode, with the lower end of the range at $1,700 presenting a buying opportunity.”
Spot platinum rebounded after hitting a one-week low of $1,615.98 in the previous session, rising 0.4 percent to $1,630.24.
Silver mimicked the firmer tone in gold and other metals, rising 0.4 percent to $33.68 per ounce.