PRECIOUS-Gold holds near 1-1/2-week high as Bernanke backs stimulus
SINGAPORE, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Gold traded flat on Wednesday, perching near a 1-1/2-week high hit in the previous session as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke defended the bank's monetary policy, lending support to gold as a hedge against central banks' cash printing. FUNDAMENTALS * Spot gold was little changed at $1,613.61 an ounce by 0028 GMT, after hitting a 1-1/2-week high of $1,619.66. It rose 1.2 percent on Tuesday, its biggest daily gain in three months. * U.S. gold inched down 0.1 percent to $1,613.30. * Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke strongly defended the U.S. central bank's monetary stimulus before Congress on Tuesday, easing financial market worries over a possible early retreat from bond purchases. * U.S. home prices closed out 2012 with the biggest annual gain in more than six years while sales of new homes spiked in January, the latest sign that the housing market was on the mend, data showed on Tuesday. * Italy's political parties searched for a way forward on Tuesday after an inconclusive election gave none of them a parliamentary majority and threatened prolonged instability and a renewal of the European financial crisis. * Goldman Sachs cut its 2013 gold price forecast to $1,600 an ounce from $1,810 an ounce, saying the metal's recent price drop and an increase in U.S. real interest rates have led it to bring forward its projections for a decline in the metal. * Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's top gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 2.408 tonnes from the previous session to 1,270.44 tonnes on Feb. 26 in its sixth session of decline. * Spot platinum traded little changed at $1,619.49, returning to a premium over gold after the gap closed briefly on Tuesday. * For the top stories on metals and other news, click , or MARKET NEWS * The yen held near one-month highs on Wednesday, remaining susceptible to bursts of short-covering as political uncertainty in Italy kept the euro under the gun. * U.S. stocks rebounded from their worst decline since November on Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke defended the Fed's bond-buying stimulus and sales of new homes hit a 4 1/2-year high. DATA/EVENTS (GMT) 0700 Germany GfK consumer sentiment 0745 France Consumer confidence 0900 Italy Business confidence 1000 Euro zone Business climate 1000 Euro zone Economic sentiment 1330 U.S. Durable goods orders 1500 U.S. Pending homes sales 1500 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivers semi-annual testimony on the economy and monetary policy before the House Financial Services Committee 1730 Euro zone ECB President Mario Draghi speaks PRICES Precious metals prices 0028 GMT Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume Spot Gold 1613.61 0.50 +0.03 -3.64 Spot Silver 29.35 -0.01 -0.03 -3.07 Spot Platinum 1619.49 1.00 +0.06 5.50 Spot Palladium 744.47 0.75 +0.10 7.58 COMEX GOLD APR3 1613.30 -2.20 -0.14 -3.73 2108 COMEX SILVER MAR3 29.34 0.07 +0.26 -2.96 611 Euro/Dollar 1.3063 Dollar/Yen 92.18 COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months (Reporting by Rujun Shen; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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