Sharp gains in crude, grains lift bullion ahead of French-German meeting on euro debt crisis
Gold rose 1 percent on Monday, as a drop in the dollar and sharp gains in crude oil and grains lifted bullion ahead of Tuesday's French-German meeting to discuss the euro debt crisis.
The gains also preceded US regulatory filings that will show changes in gold hedge funds' positions.
Gold reversed initial losses but volume was muted as Wall Street rose for a third straight session on news of US mergers and hopes that French and German politicians meeting in Paris on Tuesday can restore some confidence in the battered euro credit markets.
A nearly $3 jump in crude oil and a contract high in corn futures amid better risk appetite also boosted bullion's inflation hedge appeal. The metal is around $50 below a record $1,813.79 an ounce set on Thursday, as global equity markets continued to recover from recent steep decline.
Some analysts said that the metal was long due for a pullback, after it gained as much as 13 percent in the last 12 sessions.
"I am always worried about a market that appears to have no downside potential," said Sean McGillivray, head of asset allocation of Great Pacific Wealth Management.
"Gold is going to have a bid under it, but trading in the $1,600 area would be a much better buying opportunity for a run and a retest of $1,800."
Spot gold was up 0.9 percent at $1,761.24 an ounce by 3:02 pm EDT. It notched a gain of nearly 5 percent last week, its biggest weekly gain since early November, while the S&P fell for a third straight week.
US gold futures for December delivery settled up $15.4 an ounce at $1,758. COMEX gold futures volume was at 120,000 lots, sharply lower than last week's pace when bullion rallied to record highs.
Silver was up 1.6 percent at $39.61 an ounce. Data showed holdings of the world's largest silver-backed ETF, the iShares Silver Trust (SLV.P), dropped 0.7 percent to 9705.90 tonnes on Friday.
"At this point, people are just looking for the next move. If you are not long already, I don't see any point getting into the market at these levels as gold appears to be waiting for a pullback and reestablish a little lower," said Fred Schoenstein, metals trader at Heraeus Precious Metals Management.
The gold market is awaiting US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings on Monday that will show changes in investment holdings by hedge funds and institutional investors in the second quarter. All eyes will be on John Paulson, the biggest holder of the SPDR Gold Trust.
Paulson's flagship fund performed poorly in July. As of early August, his Paulson Advantage Plus fund is down 21.6 percent for the year, sources familiar with the firm said. Paulson's Gold Fund, however, is up 2.5 percent for the year.
Some analysts said the billionaire financier could have liquidated his positions in SPDR Gold Trust to cover losses.
I wouldn't be shocked if you had some folks especially in the hedge fund side took profits and reduced gold positions (during Q2). But they might be putting those back on with the thought that the Fed will continue to keep their monetary policy intact for the next few years," said McGillivray.
Gold also has been supported by the prospect that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke may announce a third round of quantitative easing during a global central banker meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, late this month.
Monday marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Gold Standard in place since the Bretton Woods agreement of 1944.
Some gold advocates suggested that bringing back the dollar-bullion peg could lessen the threat of inflation and currency volatility. However, most economists said that such a move, equivalent to the elimination of central banks' monetary tools, would have catastrophic consequences for global growth.
A 1-percent drop of the dollar against a basket of major currencies, and speculation the Swiss National Bank could further intervene also boosted gold's appeal as an alternative currency.
Among other precious metals, platinum was little changed at $1,794.24 an ounce, while spot palladium was up 0.4 percent at $746 an ounce.