PRECIOUS-Gold heads for longest run of monthly drops in 16 years

Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:17pm EST

SINGAPORE, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Gold traded little changed on
Thursday, but was headed for its longest stretch of monthly
declines in more than 16 years as its safe-haven appeal has
dimmed with the global economy showing signs of recovery.
    It sank nearly 1 percent in the previous session, wiping out
Tuesday's gains that were fuelled by U.S. Federal Reserve
Chairman Ben Bernanke's reassurance of the bank's monetary
stimulus programme.
       
    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold traded little changed at $1,597.60 an
ounce by 0048 GMT, on course for a monthly decline of 4 percent.
It has been in the red for five straight months, the longest
such losing streak since late 1996 to early 1997.
    * U.S. gold inched up 0.1 percent to $1,597.80.
    * Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's biggest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, dropped to a more than
six-month low of 1,258.4 tonnes on Feb. 27. The holdings had
been falling for seven sessions straight, marking the longest
losing run since the fund was incepted in 2004.
    * The U.S. jobless rate is unlikely to reach more normal
levels for several years, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
said on Wednesday as he defended the central bank's monetary
stimulus in the second day of testimony in front of the
Congress. 
    * U.S. economic data was upbeat. A gauge of planned U.S.
business spending recorded its largest increase in more than a
year in January, suggesting growing confidence in the durability
of the economic recovery. 
    * Solid demand for Italy's first bond auction since the
inconclusive election soothed fears that the political deadlock
could destabilise Europe's second-largest sovereign debt market,
though Italy's borrowing costs rose to their highest in four
months. 
    * Positions hardened on Wednesday between U.S. President
Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders over the
budget crisis even as they arranged to hold last-ditch talks to
prevent harsh automatic spending cuts beginning this week.
 
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    MARKET NEWS
    * U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, with major indexes posting
their best daily gains since early January, as Federal Reserve
Chairman Ben Bernanke remained steadfast in supporting the Fed's
stimulus policy and data pointed to economic improvement. 
    * The euro held its ground against the dollar and yen on
Thursday, with euro bulls taking heart after a relatively smooth
auction of Italian government bonds helped ease worries about
the country's inconclusive election. 
    

    DATA/EVENTS (GMT)
 0500  Japan     Construction orders                   
 0530  India     Q3 GDP                                
 0745  France    Consumer spending                    
 0855  Germany   Unemployment rate                    
 1330  U.S.      Q4 GDP                                
 1330  U.S.      Weekly jobless claims                
 1445  U.S.      Chicago PMI                           
        
    PRICES    
    Precious metals prices 0048 GMT
  Metal             Last    Change  Pct chg  YTD pct chg    Volume
  Spot Gold        1597.60    0.39   +0.02     -4.59
  Spot Silver        29.05    0.06   +0.21     -4.06
  Spot Platinum    1598.74    2.82   +0.18      4.15
  Spot Palladium    741.89    0.89   +0.12      7.21
  COMEX GOLD APR3  1597.80    2.10   +0.13     -4.65         2280
  COMEX SILVER MAR3  28.99    0.04   +0.15     -4.12           6
  Euro/Dollar       1.3150
  Dollar/Yen         92.36
  COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
  

 (Reporting by Rujun Shen; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
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