* Asian stocks drop to lowest since 2011
* Weak U.S. retail sales, low oil drag on equities
* That boosts bullion's safe-haven appeal
* Gold resistance seen at $1,140 an ounce -Phillip Futures
(Adds BMI comment, updates prices)
By Manolo Serapio Jr
MANILA, Jan 18 Gold opened the trading week
higher on Monday, buoyed by safe-haven bids after Asian equities
tumbled to their lowest since 2011 as investors shunned risky
assets on the heels of weak U.S. economic data.
U.S. retail sales fell in December along with industrial
production, the latest indication that economic growth braked
sharply in the fourth quarter. Oil prices slid to the lowest
The renewed weakness in the world's top economy raises
doubts about whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest
rates again in March, boding well for non-interest bearing
assets like gold.
"It will be increasingly difficult for another hike in
March, considering that China will continue to be weak," said
Daniel Ang, investment analyst at Phillip Futures. "A further
hike may be possible only in the third or fourth quarter."
The unabated decline in oil prices further fanned worries
over a global economic downturn, pushing investors to assets
deemed safe including gold, said Ang.
Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,090 an ounce by
0606 GMT, after losing 1.4 percent last week.
U.S. gold for February delivery was flat at
$1,089.90 an ounce.
Hedge funds and money managers switched to their first
bullish bet in COMEX gold in two months and lifted their bullish
bet in silver in the week to Jan. 12, U.S. Commodity Futures
Trading Commission data showed on Friday.
But gold could face resistance at $1,140, said Ang, citing
slow physical demand from top consumers China and India, with
Chinese spending seen dented by its slowing economy.
"I'm bearish on gold despite the recent uptick we've seen,"
China will release its gross domestic product data for
full-year 2015 on Tuesday and economists polled by Reuters have
forecast that growth cooled to 6.9 percent, the slowest in a
quarter of a century.
BMI Research, part of ratings agency Fitch, sees gold
averaging $1,000 this year amid a firmer dollar and higher U.S.
"However, should the global equity market weakness
experienced in early January persist through (the first half of
2016), this would be supportive of gold prices and imply a
higher range of $1,050-1,200," BMI said in a note.
(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Joseph Radford)