PRECIOUS-Gold hits lowest since Feb on ETF outflows, S&P gains
* Spot gold on track for fourth consecutive daily loss
* Holdings of No. 1 gold ETF drop by another 3 tonnes
* Wage talks restart in strike-hit S.African platinum sector
* Coming up: U.S. new home sales Wednesday (Updates market activities)
By Frank Tang and Jan Harvey
NEW YORK/LONDON, April 22 (Reuters) - Gold prices dropped to their lowest in more than two months on Tuesday, weighed down by gains in Wall Street stocks and as outflows from physical gold funds pointed to weak investment appetite.
Bullion fell for a fourth straight day after government data showed U.S. home prices rose in February, while a report by the National Association of Realtors showed existing home sales were a bit stronger than expected.
Gold losses accelerated after prices slipped below chart support at $1,280 an ounce, triggering heavy protective stop-loss orders.
Traders said upcoming U.S. economic indicators, including new home sales on Wednesday and the durable goods orders and jobless claims on Thursday, are likely to set the tone for gold in the near term.
"If those numbers come out better than expected or show continued improvement in the U.S. economy, you should start looking at the $1,250 area as the next support level for gold," said Thomas Capalbo, precious metals trader at brokerage Newedge.
Spot gold was down 0.5 percent at $1,282.49 an ounce by 3:13 p.m. EDT (1913 GMT), having earlier hit $1,277.10, the lowest since Feb. 11.
U.S. COMEX gold futures for June delivery settled down $7.40 an ounce at $1,281.10, with trading volume about 30 percent below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
A better U.S. economic outlook, reflected by a six straight day of gains in the S&P 500 stock index, driven by strong corporate results, weighed on gold's appeal as a hedge.
The SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, reported another drop in holdings on Monday, down 3 tonnes to 792.14 tonnes.
Last week alone, fund outflows totalled 9.3 tonnes, erasing all the gains made in the year. Traders said persistent outflows from the top ETF could make any gains hard to hold.
News of ETF outflow spooked some short-term holders of gold, as many had thought the significant unwinding that characterized 2013 had come to an end, Deutsche Bank said in a note.
Among other precious metals, silver was down 0.1 percent at $19.37 an ounce. Platinum rose 0.2 percent to $1,395.50 an ounce, while palladium was up 0.6 percent at $781.33 an ounce.
Platinum group investors were digesting news that chief executives of the world's top platinum producers were to meet the leaders of the AMCU union on Tuesday for wage talks, seeking to end the longest and most costly strike at South Africa's mines in living memory.
3:13 PM EST LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT
SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold JUN 1281.10 -7.40 -0.6 1275.80 1293.10 108,524 US Silver MAY 19.361 0.010 0.1 19.285 19.530 45,371 US Plat JUL 1400.30 -0.40 0.0 1392.80 1413.50 10,005 US Pall JUN 783.65 5.85 0.8 779.00 789.70 4,103 Gold 1282.49 -7.05 -0.5 1278.00 1292.50 Silver 19.370 -0.020 -0.1 19.330 19.530 Platinum 1395.50 2.40 0.2 1396.00 1411.00 Palladium 781.33 4.63 0.6 780.85 787.20 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY
CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 120,668 170,351 174,863 16.16 -0.14 US Silver 68,729 50,994 59,341 23.26 2.06 US Platinum 10,053 14,023 12,290 17.09 1.25 US Palladium 4,166 5,948 5,931 30.13 2.88 (Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by Keiron Henderson/Ruth Pitchford, Andrea Ricci and Nick Zieminski)