PRECIOUS-Gold ticks up on bargain hunting; off 4-month low
* Gold may rebound to $1,601.80-technicals * Coming Up: EZ Industrial production yy Mar; 0900 GMT (Updates prices) By Lewa Pardomuan SINGAPORE, May 14 (Reuters) - Gold edged up on Monday as bargain hunters lifted prices from four-month lows, but gains were capped as an inconclusive Greek election raised the risk the country could exit the euro zone and fanned fears of a worsening debt crisis in the region. Gold has moved in tandem with riskier assets this year as the turmoil in Europe sent the euro to multi-month lows and investors turned to the safety of the dollar, analysts said. The U.S. dollar has also been supported by optimism that more positive labour market numbers will be seen soon. Gold hit an intraday high at $1,585.39 an ounce and was barely changed at $1,578.45 by 0615 GMT. Bullion had tumbled to a low of around $1,573 on Friday, its weakest since early January, on fears that the debt crisis in Europe will hurt global economic growth. "I think for as long as the crisis in Europe drags on, it's going to keep sentiment broadly in check. At the moment, gold has been painted with the risk brush. It's going to be very much a tracker of the equity markets," said Nick Trevethan, a senior commodity strategist at ANZ in Singapore. "The range should be from just below $1,580, up towards $1,600. The market really needs to get back towards $1,600 or above in order the confirm we have bottomed." U.S. gold for June slipped $5.50 an ounce to $1,578.50. Money managers in gold futures and options cut their net long positions by 20 percent to the lowest level since December 2008, as investors aggressively unwound their bullish bets in the precious metal after a sharp price pullback. Greece's president will continue talks with the country's political leaders on Monday to try to form a government after an inconclusive election left parliament divided between supporters and opponents of the 130 billion euro EU/IMF bailout. Investors had turned to gold as a safe haven during the debt crisis last year, sending prices to an all-time high of around $1,920 an ounce. But this year, gold is trading more in line as a commodity that moves in the opposite direction to the U.S. dollar. The euro dipped to $1.2878 at one point on trading platform EBS, its lowest level since Jan. 23, after Greek political leaders failed in their latest efforts to form a ruling coalition. The Nikkei inched higher on Monday as China's monetary easing countered unease ahead of Greece's last-ditch attempt to form a coalition government later in the day. Shares outside Japan slipped. In the physical market, jewellery makers and speculators took advantage of last week's drop in prices. "We've seen physical buying interest. But people are still bearish about the market because of the strong dollar and worries that Greece won't be able to solve its problems," said a dealer in Hong Kong. "Investors are not so aggressive, and I think the jeweller sector is more important. Supply is a bit tight in the physical market." Precious metals prices 0615 GMT Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume Spot Gold 1578.45 0.15 +0.01 0.94 Spot Silver 28.62 -0.23 -0.80 3.36 Spot Platinum 1461.44 1.44 +0.10 4.91 Spot Palladium 598.20 1.10 +0.18 -8.32 COMEX GOLD JUN2 1578.50 -5.50 -0.35 0.75 14667 COMEX SILVER JUL2 28.62 -0.28 -0.95 2.51 2875 Euro/Dollar 1.2893 Dollar/Yen 80.00 COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months (Editing by Himani Sarkar)
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