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Tue 11 Sep 2012 10:59 AM

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Gold firms; investors eye Fed decision, German ruling

Gold has rallied nearly 7 percent over the past month on the European Central Bank's bond-buying plan

Gold firms; investors eye Fed decision, German ruling

Gold edged higher on Tuesday, paring losses from the previous session, with investors awaiting a key German ruling on the euro zone's bailout fund and a US Federal Reserve decision on possible measures to stimulate the economy.

Gold has rallied nearly 7 percent over the past month on the European Central Bank's bond-buying plan and expectations that the Fed would launch another round of quantitative easing, or QE3, at this week's meeting of its policy-setting wing.

Easy monetary policy benefits gold, which attracts investors worried about potential inflation risks associated with cash printing by central banks.

The chances of a QE3 announcement this week have jumped after disappointing US employment data last Friday, sending spot gold to above $1,740 for the first time since end of February.

"Investors have become very enthusiastic about gold, as well as silver judging by ETF holdings and COMEX positions," said Li Ning, an analyst at Shanghai CIFCO Futures. "Gold may continue to fluctuate at these elevated levels, with $1,700 providing short-term support."

Holdings of gold-backed exchange-traded funds  rose to an all-time high of 72.492 million ounces on Monday.

Spot gold had gained 0.3 percent to $1,730.64 per ounce by 0303 GMT, after dropping 0.6 percent in the previous session.

US gold was little changed at $1,733.40.

Speculators raised their net long positions in U.S. gold futures and options to the highest level in more than six months in the week ended Sept. 4, while silver net length had risen for six straight weeks.

Technical analysis suggested that spot gold faces resistance at $1,739 and may retrace to $1,711 during the day, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.

A German constitutional court will rule on Wednesday whether Germany can contribute to the European rescue fund, which plays a crucial role in the European Central Bank's plan to fight the region's debt crisis.

Scrap continued to flow into Asia's physical gold market as prices remained buoyed by market expectations for more stimulus measures.

"There is a lot of scrap and even some buying as some expect prices to go higher," said a Singapore-based dealer, adding that the premium on gold bars in Singapore stood at 20 to 40 cents per ounce above London spot prices.

Platinum group metals, which hit multi-month highs in the previous session supported by ongoing labour strife in South Africa's mining sector and decent China auto sales data, also firmed. 

Spot palladium rose to a four-month high of $670.50 on Monday, before easing to $667.65. Spot platinum traded up 0.3 percent at $1,593.49, retreating from a five-month high of $1,603.50 in the previous session.

In industry news, China, the world's top gold producer, churned out 31.3 tonnes of the precious metal in July, bringing total output in the first seven months of the year to 208 tonnes, up 7 percent year on year.

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