PRECIOUS-Gold up after Fed cuts stimulus further, equities slide

Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:44pm EST

* Fed to cut bond purchases by another $10 billon
    * Global equities slip on Fed, emerging-market jitters
    * Fed seen to keep interest rates low for some time
    * Coming up: U.S. jobless claims, pending home sales Thurs

 (Adds analyst comment, details on S. Africa platinum miner
strike, updates prices)
    By Frank Tang and Jan Harvey
    NEW YORK/LONDON, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Gold rose in choppy
trade on Wednesday as global equities slumped after the U.S.
Federal Reserve announced a further reduction in its bond-buying
stimulus.
    The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced a further $10
billion reduction in its monthly bond purchases as it stuck to a
plan to wind down the extraordinary stimulus. 
    Analysts said gold prices climbed because the Fed's move to
taper had already been fully discounted in the bullion market
ahead of Wednesday's announcement. 
    "Even though the Fed made it clear that tapering will
continue, no real tightening will happen anytime soon, certainly
not this year," said Bill O'Neill, partner of New Jersey
commodities investment firm LOGIC Advisors.
     Spot gold was up 0.5 percent at $1,261.90 an ounce
by 3:18 p.m. EST (2018 GMT), snapping a two-day losing streak.
    The Fed's Open Market Committee ended its January meeting
without making any changes to the U.S. central bank's other main
policy plank: its longer-term plan to keep interest rates low
for some time to come. 
    In a statement after the two-day meeting, the Fed said
"economic activity picked up in recent quarters," and largely
shook off a surprisingly soft reading on December jobs growth.
    The S&P 500 equities index was down 1 percent on
Wednesday as the Fed news added to earlier worries over an
emerging market selloff. 
    Year-to-date, U.S. equities have dropped about 4 percent,
while gold was up more than 5 percent.
    Market observers said gold prices could further benefit from
a flight to safety assets as the U.S. central bank did not
sufficiently address economic uncertainties. 
    "As the currency crisis continues to heat up in the emerging
markets, people are looking for gold to be a safe haven," said
Jeffrey Sica, chief investment officer at New Jersey-based Sica
Wealth, which manages more than $1 billion in client assets.
    U.S. COMEX gold futures for February delivery settled
up $11.40 an ounce at $1,262.20.
    Trading volume was about 30 percent above its 250-day
average, preliminary Reuters data showed. Higher turnover was
partially due to contract rollover to April from February ahead
of Friday's first-notice day, traders said.
    Among other precious metals, silver was up 0.9
percent at $19.73 an ounce. Platinum climbed 0.3 percent
to $1,408.99 an ounce, while palladium was down 0.4
percent at $711.47 an ounce.
    Platinum group metal investors digested news that the
world's top platinum producers have made a revised wage offer to
South Africa's AMCU union but that it fell short of demands for
a minimum "living wage." 
 3:18 PM EST     LAST/    NET   PCT      LOW    HIGH  CURRENT
                SETTLE   CHNG  CHNG                       VOL
 US Gold FEB   1262.20  11.40   0.9  1248.50 1269.30  127,171
 US Silver MAR  19.552  0.049   0.3   19.450  19.965   41,154
 US Plat APR   1408.10  -1.30  -0.1  1404.00 1421.80    7,362
 US Pall MAR    711.15  -5.35  -0.7   707.15  723.45    5,025
                                                              
 Gold          1265.40   9.19   0.7  1249.45 1268.90         
 Silver         19.730  0.180   0.9   19.430  19.960
 Platinum      1408.99   3.99   0.3  1407.25 1418.25
 Palladium      711.47  -2.78  -0.4   711.52  720.47
                                                              
 TOTAL MARKET              VOLUME          30-D ATM VOLATILITY
                CURRENT   30D AVG  250D AVG   CURRENT     CHG
 US Gold        247,826   157,012   187,968     18.08   -0.44
 US Silver       43,621    42,536    57,249     27.01   -0.43
 US Platinum      7,483    10,826    12,707     17.28   -1.30
 US Palladium     5,162     3,500     5,858     17.25    1.16
                                                              
    

 (Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; editing by Alden
Bentley, Nick Zieminski and Matthew Lewis)
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