PRECIOUS-Gold crawls up as Greece inches near deal

Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:33am EST

* Greece's lenders have agreed on new measures to cut debt
    * Physical buying, scrap selling dry up in Hong Kong,
Singapore
    * Spot gold may retrace to $1,720/oz - technicals

 (Adds details; updates prices)
    By Rujun Shen
    SINGAPORE, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Gold ticked up on Friday, on
course for a second weekly rise in three, as the euro firmed on
news of progress in Greece's bailout talks while concerns about
U.S. fiscal issues continued to lend support to bullion.
    Greece's lenders have agreed on new measures to cut its debt
pile further but it still has to fill a 10 billion euro ($12.9
billion) gap to gain the approval of International Monetary
Fund, a senior Greek official said. 
    The euro rose to a three-week high versus the dollar on the
news, while the dollar index was on track for a weekly
loss of 0.8 percent, its biggest drop in more than two months. 
    A weaker greenback makes dollar-priced commodities more
affordable for buyers holding other currencies.
    Bullion is getting additional support from worries about the
U.S. "fiscal cliff" - $600 billion in tax hikes and spending
cuts scheduled to kick in early next year, which may push the
economy into another recession.
    Gold has been stuck in a narrow range around $1,730 an ounce
most of this week as investors wait to see if U.S. lawmakers
will be able to avert the looming fiscal crisis.
    "We are stuck between $1,715 and $1,740 area for now, but
speculators are still bullish on gold, as uncertainties about
the 'fiscal cliff' hang around and they believe that central
banks around the world will stay loose on monetary policy," said
Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong
Kong.
    Easing monetary policy boosts gold's appeal as a hedge
against inflation. The U.S. Federal Reserve's stimulus measures
have been a major driver behind gold's 11-percent rise so far
this year.
    Spot gold edged up 0.1 percent to $1,731.36 an ounce
by 0808 GMT, headed for a weekly gain of 1 percent.
    U.S. gold gained 0.2 percent to $1,731.60.
    Technical analysis suggested that spot gold looks weak below
resistance at $1,734 and may retrace to $1,720 an ounce, said
Reuters market analyst Wang Tao. 
    
    
    PHYSICAL FLOW SLOW IN ASIA
    Physical market in Hong Kong and Singapore was quiet, as the
rangebound prices put off interest from both buyers and scrap
sellers, dealers said. 
    "Physical demand is very slow, especially from the jewellery
sector, for this time of the year," said Dick Poon, general
manager of Heraeus Metals Hong Kong Ltd.
    The labour unrest in South Africa remains a concern to the
market. Two miners were killed in clashes between rival unions
at a mine run by Harmony Gold, in a fresh flare-up of
labour violence in Africa's largest economy days after a wave of
wildcat strikes ended, police said. 
    Spot silver rose to $33.49, its highest since
mid-October, headed for a weekly rise of about 4 percent.
    
   Precious metals prices 0808 GMT
  Metal             Last    Change  Pct chg  YTD pct chg    Volume
  Spot Gold        1731.36    2.31   +0.13     10.71
  Spot Silver        33.43    0.15   +0.45     20.73
  Spot Platinum    1577.50   -1.90   -0.12     13.24
  Spot Palladium    652.00   -2.40   -0.37     -0.08
  COMEX GOLD DEC2  1731.60    3.40   +0.20     10.52        36182
  COMEX SILVER DEC2  33.42    0.07   +0.21     19.72        11057
  Euro/Dollar       1.2906
  Dollar/Yen         82.26
  COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months   
 
 (Editing by Himani Sarkar)
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