PRECIOUS-Gold ends flat near 2012 high, US payrolls eyed
* Gold consolidates gains, hovers around 2012 highs * Platinum group metals mixed, US auto sales data upbeat * PIMCO's Gross: only gold, real assets will survive inflation (Adds details, updates market activity) By Frank Tang NEW YORK, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Gold traded nearly flat on Tuesday as the market consolidated gains a day after hitting a 2012 high and ahead of the all-important September U.S. nonfarm payrolls data due later this week. Palladium rose 1.5 percent while platinum was little changed as the largest U.S. automaker General Motors Co posted a small gain in September U.S. sales and total U.S. auto sales increased 12 percent. The bullion market took a breather after the metal rose to its highest level this year on Monday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke renewed the central bank's pledge made in September to keep monetary stimulus in place even after the economic rebound appears to gain traction. U.S. gold futures volume was on track to finish at a one-month low as one of the world's top bullion consumers, China, was absent from trading because of a week-long holiday while India's market was also shut. "Although these holidays may mute activity slightly this week, the new quarter and Friday's employment report will be enough for CTAs (commodity trading advisors) and hedge funds to adjust gold positions this week," Carlos Perez-Santalla of brokerage PVM Futures, said in an email to clients. Spot gold edged up 61 cents at $1,774.40 an ounce by 3:10 p.m. EDT (1910 GMT). Monday's session high was $1,791.20, its highest since mid-November last year. U.S. COMEX December gold futures settled down $7.70 at $1,775.60 an ounce. Bill Gross, founder and co-chief investment officer of bond giant PIMCO, said that rising U.S. debt will lead the Federal Reserve to print more money, stoking inflation and debasing the dollar. That would adversely affect stocks and bonds, while only gold and real asset investments would survive, Gross said. MARKET CAUTION A high concentration of call options near the current market price of the SPDR Gold Trust suggests some bullion investors are uncertain about gold's outlook ahead of Friday's options expiry and the payrolls report. Investment demand for gold, as measured by inflows of metal into the world's major gold exchange-traded funds, continued to grow, following an addition of nearly 130,000 ounces of gold into bullion funds including the SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold ETF. Silver eased 0.2 percent to $34.57 an ounce. Platinum reversed early gains to inch down 0.1 percent to $1,669 an ounce, while palladium gained 1.4 percent to $647.72 an ounce. Platinum group metals was supported by the positive U.S. auto sales report and ongoing mining labor unrest after a series of violent strikes in South Africa's platinum belt, where most of the world's supply comes from. 3:10 PM EDT LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold DEC 1775.60 -7.70 -0.4 1772.30 1786.60 105,418 US Silver DEC 34.669 -0.283 -0.8 34.420 35.115 31,810 US Plat OCT 1682.90 1.40 0.1 1674.10 1680.10 25 US Pall DEC 654.20 8.60 1.3 641.70 656.35 2,384 Gold 1774.40 0.61 0.0 1771.73 1784.20 Silver 34.570 -0.070 -0.2 34.440 35.040 Platinum 1669.00 -2.00 -0.1 1671.90 1681.49 Palladium 647.72 9.22 1.4 644.00 654.00 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 108,491 164,865 196,124 19.44 0.30 US Silver 33,489 60,758 58,222 28.75 0.54 US Platinum 7,565 16,164 8,943 23 0.00 US Palladium 2,395 5,778 4,385 (Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper and Clare Hutchison in London; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer and Jim Marshall)
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