PRECIOUS-Gold inches down, on track for 5 pct quarterly drop

Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:03am EDT

* Gold to retest $1,550 in 3 months-technicals
 
    * Coming Up: U.S. personal income; 1230 GMT

    By Lewa Pardomuan and Risa Maeda
    SINGAPORE/TOKYO, March 29 (Reuters) - Gold ticked lower on
Friday, on track to end the quarter with a loss of nearly 5
percent, as the euro stayed weak and a rally in equities boosted
appetite for riskier assets.
    Shares edged up in Asia and the precious metal's safe-haven
appeal waned after banks in debt-ridden Cyprus reopened on
Thursday without causing a massive run on deposits despite a
controversial bailout that taxed large depositors. 
    Worries about the fiscal stability of the euro zone had sent
gold prices to a 1-month high last week.
    Gold fell $1.18 an ounce to $1,594.99 by 0332 GMT in
extremely thin trade as many markets in Asia were closed for
Good Friday. Prices were down 4.7 percent for the first quarter
-- its second consecutive quarterly loss. 
    U.S. gold futures <0#GC:> were untraded. But the most active
contract on Tokyo Commodity Exchange, February, hit a
low of 4,842 yen a gram, its weakest in three weeks, on position
squaring on the last business day of the fiscal year.
    "Looking ahead, gold is likely to stay in the current range
of $1,590 and $1,605," said Kaname Gokon, general manager at
Okato Shoji Co's research section, referring to next week's
trading range.
    "But there are chances that those who have bought TOCOM
futures on a weaker yen may start closing their long positions
if a market focus is shifted to a stronger dollar, which is
negative to gold." 
    Japanese speculators were unfazed by an escalating tension
in the Korean Peninsula after North Korea said it had put rocket
units on standby to attack U.S. military bases in South Korea
and the Pacific. 
    "Basically, the general public and industrial companies are
not doing anything at this moment. Liquidity is also limited.
Premiums for gold bars are flat," a physical dealer in Tokyo
said.
    Gold bars in Tokyo were on par with spot London prices,
unchanged from last week. 
    The physical markets were closed in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Premiums in both gold trading centres stood at between $1.20 and
$1.50 an ounce on Thursday. 
     
    In other markets, the euro hovered near four-month
lows against the dollar and was poised to end the first quarter
recording a roughly 2.9 percent loss -- its first quarterly
decline since the second quarter of 2012. 
    Gold investors are now waiting for the release of U.S. CFTC
commitment of traders data at 1930 GMT for more trading cues.
    Hedge funds and money managers raised their bullish bets in
gold by 63 percent and added their net short position in copper
to a fresh four-year high in the week to March 19, Commodity
Futures Trading Commission data showed last week.
 
       
    
  Precious metals prices 0332 GMT
  Metal             Last    Change  Pct chg  YTD pct chg    Volume
  Spot Gold        1594.99   -1.18   -0.07     -4.75
  Spot Silver        28.68    0.36   +1.27     -5.28
  Spot Platinum    1565.50    0.00   +0.00      1.99
  Spot Palladium    769.50    0.00   +0.00     11.20
  COMEX GOLD APR3  1594.80  -11.40   -0.71     -4.83         4715
  COMEX SILVER MAY3  28.32   -0.29   -1.01     -6.31        35186
  Euro/Dollar       1.2827
  Dollar/Yen         94.07
 
  COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
 
 
 (Editing by Himani Sarkar)