PRECIOUS-Gold steady; US budget talks in focus

Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:02pm EST

SINGAPORE, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Gold was little changed on
Monday after posting the third straight week of losses, as
investors await progress on the negotiations in Washington to
avert a fiscal disaster that could push the world's top economy
into a recession.
    
    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold was flat at $1,695.01 an ounce by 0039
GMT, after falling nearly half a percent in the previous week.
    * U.S. gold traded little changed at $1,696.40.
    * U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner's offer
to accept a tax rate increase for the wealthiest Americans
knocks down a key Republican road block to a deal resolving the
year-end "fiscal cliff." 
    * Hedge funds and money managers raised their bullish bets
on U.S. gold futures and options to 129,865 contracts in the
week ended Dec. 11, up from a more than three-month low of
126,073 lots in the previous week. 
    * But they cut net length in silver to 34,862 lots, its
lowest since late November. 
    * Conservative ex-premier Shinzo Abe will get a second
chance to lead Japan after his Liberal Democratic Party won a
landslide victory in Sunday's election, but he must move swiftly
to bolster a sagging economy and manage strained ties with China
to avoid the fate of his short-lived predecessors.
 
    * Spot palladium inched down 0.1 percent to $699.06,
after rising for seven weeks straight, its longest winning
streak in more than two years. 
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    MARKET NEWS
    * U.S. stocks fell on Friday as another slide in Apple took
a toll and investors unloaded some shares because of the
uncertainty surrounding the "fiscal cliff" negotiations. 
    * The yen slumped to its lowest in over a year-and-a-half
against the U.S. dollar on Monday as part of a broad skid after
Japan's conservative LDP party, pledged to hyper-easy monetary
policy, won a landslide victory at an election. 
    
    DATA/EVENTS (GMT)
 0900 Italy     Trade balance                Oct
 1000 Euro zone Trade data                   Oct
 1000 Euro zone Labour costs                 Q3
 1330 US        NY Fed Empire State survey   Dec
 1600 US        Fed Board Governor Stein speaks
 1800 US        Richmond Fed President Lacker speaks
    
    PRICES
   
 Precious metals prices 0039 GMT
  Metal             Last    Change  Pct chg  YTD pct chg    Volume
  Spot Gold        1695.01   -0.08   -0.00      8.39
  Spot Silver        32.31    0.16   +0.50     16.68
  Spot Platinum    1609.99   -4.01   -0.25     15.58
  Spot Palladium    699.06   -0.94   -0.13      7.14
  COMEX GOLD FEB3  1696.40   -0.60   -0.04      8.27         3808
  COMEX SILVER MAR3  32.38    0.08   +0.25     15.99          849
  Euro/Dollar       1.3160
  Dollar/Yen         83.98
  COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months  
 
 (Reporting by Rujun Shen; Editing by Ed Davies)