* Gold up 10.6 pct in February for biggest monthly gain in 4
* SPDR fund inflows touch one-year high
(Updates prices; adds comment, second byline, NEW YORK
By Marcy Nicholson and Clara Denina
NEW YORK/LONDON, Feb 29 Gold rose 1 percent on
Monday, boosted by lower equities and weak U.S. data, leaving
the metal well placed to log its best monthly performance in
four years as turmoil in wider markets increased its safe-haven
Spot gold rose 1.3 percent to $1,238.41 by 2:56 p.m.
EST (1956 GMT) and was on track to finish February up 10.6
percent, its strongest monthly performance since January 2012.
U.S. gold futures for April delivery settled up 1.1
percent at $1,234.40 an ounce.
"This has started as a rocky year for global markets and
while some countries are moving into negative rates, the outlook
for U.S. interest rates hikes is not as positive," Natixis
analyst Bernard Dahdah said.
Bullion has rallied about 16 percent this year,
rediscovering its role as a shelter for risk-averse investors in
the face of tumbling equities and fears of a global economic
Prices hit a one-year high of $1,260.60 this month, further
supported by the repricing of expectations for U.S. interest
"Coming into March, technical indicators look fairly solid
and the ETF movements look quite supportive," said Mitsubishi
Corp strategist Jonathan Butler.
"On the macroeconomic side, however, next week we are going
to have the ECB announcement of possible further quantitative
easing, which is going to weigh on the euro against the dollar
and all commodities should come under pressure again."
U.S. data showed contracts to buy previously owned U.S.
homes fell to their lowest level in a year in January.
"It keeps the Fed on the path of accommodation," said Bill
O'Neill, co-founder of commodities investment firm Logic
Advisors in New Jersey.
"The Fed is not going to hike rates in March and probably
won't hike rates more than once this year, and I could see them
not hiking rates at all this year."
Hedge funds and money managers raised their bullish stance
in COMEX gold to a one-year high, data showed on
Assets in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's top gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, rose to 762.41 tonnes on Friday, the
highest in about a year.
Gold prices on the Shanghai Gold Exchange were at a premium
of about $2 an ounce, indicating buying interest from top
Physical demand in India, however, remained subdued last
week, with the market falling to record discounts.
Among other precious metals, platinum rose 2 percent
to $931.82 an ounce, while silver gained 1.4 percent to
$14.88 and palladium climbed 2.2 percent to $491.
(Additional reporting by A.Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing
by David Goodman and Lisa Shumaker)