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Gold firm near lifetime high, econ worries linger

business Updated: Aug 10, 2011 09:25 IST

Gold ticked higher on Wednesday, hovering near a lifetime high around $1,778 an ounce struck in the previous session, but further gains could be capped by a rebound in equities after the US Federal Reserve's vow to keep rates near zero.

Stocks bounced in Asia after US shares jumped on the Federal Reserve's unprecedented pledge to keep interest rates near zero for at least two years, although the move confirmed fears the US economy will remain weak for far longer than previously forecast.

Gold added $11.89 to $1,755.29 an ounce by 0258 GMT, having hit a record at $1,778.29 on Tuesday, in its biggest three-day rally since the financial crisis in late 2008 after equities plunged on fears over the threat to economic growth from the US and euro debt crises.

"Generally speaking, the panic is subsiding for the moment. I would expect that (gold) will consolidate at these levels for a while before we get any sort of clear idea of the sort of next major moves," said Citigroup analyst David Thurtell.

"I think there are enough concerns about sovereign debts and weakening growth, that people will buy dips, so it should remain supported."

US December gold futures rose $24.4 to $1,767.4 an ounce, within sight of Tuesday's record of about $1,782 an ounce.

Tracking strong global prices, the most active gold contract on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange, June 2012, hit a record for a second consecutive day at 4,408 yen a gram.

The Fed pledged to hold benchmark rates at rock-bottom lows until mid-2013, and opened the door to other tools to support growth, saying that US economic growth was proving considerably weaker than expected.

Global stock markets had been tumbling since the start of August on fears the United States would slide back into recession after a downgrade of the US credit rating on Friday, and on the ever-expanding euro zone debt crisis.

MSCI's all-country world stock index was about 17 percent below its May peak on Wednesday, after slipping as far as 20 percent, the generally accepted definition of a bear market, on Tuesday.

Premiums for gold bars remained steady in Asia, although jewellers were on the sidelines as they closely watched movements in the equities markets.

"We'll wait and see if stocks markets will continue to stabilise, because if it will, then gold will drop down a bit," said a physical dealer in Hong Kong.

"But I think there's no change in sentiments for gold. Interest rates in the US will be kept low in the next two years and it should benefit gold for the time being."

High bullion prices turned off demand in main consumer India, but a correction could prompt bargain hunting from jewellers as the busy wedding season resumes later this month.

Gold jewellery is an essential part of the dowry basket parents give daughters at weddings.

In the energy market, Brent crude rose $2 after the Fed's promise to extend near-zero interest rates for two more years weighed on the dollar and helped reverse a steep slump in oil.

Precious metals prices 0258 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume
Spot Gold 1755.29 11.89 +0.68 23.66
Spot Silver 38.34 0.71 +1.89 24.24
Spot Platinum 1752.50 3.90 +0.22 -0.85
Spot Palladium 745.25 11.30 +1.54 -6.79
TOCOM Gold 4343.00 -5.00 -0.11 16.47 85622
TOCOM Platinum 4375.00 86.00 +2.01 -6.84 9473
TOCOM Silver 94.50 -1.90 -1.97 16.67 858
TOCOM Palladium 1865.00 96.00 +5.43 -11.06 353
COMEX GOLD DEC1 1631.20 15.00 +0.93 14.76 136930
COMEX SILVER SEP1 40.11 0.31 +0.78 29.63 44407
Euro/Dollar 1.4347
Dollar/Yen 76.84
TOCOM prices in yen per gram. Spot prices in $ per ounce
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months