* Spot gold heads for 6 pct quarterly gain
* Dollar falls to one-month low against currency basket
* Euro zone finance ministers agree to boost bailout funds
By Michelle Martin
LONDON, March 30 Gold prices rose on Friday as
the dollar fell to a one-month low against a basket of
currencies, including the euro, after European finance ministers
agreed to boost the euro zone's debt crisis firewall to roughly
800 billion euros ($1.1 trillion).
Spot gold rose 0.2 percent to $1,664.48 an ounce at
1333 GMT. The metal is on track for a 6 percent gain in the
first three months of 2012 after posting its first quarterly
drop in three years at the end of last year.
The euro rose 0.3 percent, and U.S. and European
shares gained after European finance ministers agreed to beef up
the region's crisis-fighting funds.
"I think the market believes these firewalls are sufficient
for now, but if things go really pear-shaped in Europe, even
these firewalls won't be enough," Standard Bank analyst Walter
de Wet said.
"That's why ... the gold price is not reacting too much to
this. I think it's more a dollar thing in the short-term," he
"I think the risk is to the downside, and we could possibly
go below $1,600," he said.
Last year worries over the potential spread of the euro zone
debt crisis helped drive gold to record highs, but the metal has
since re-established its usual inverse relationship with the
dollar. News from the euro zone that boosts the euro and weighs
on the dollar tends to be positive for gold.
The dollar fell to its lowest in a month against a basket of
currencies on Friday, extending falls on expectations of more
U.S. monetary stimulus. The retreat in the dollar helped push
oil prices up 70 cents a barrel.
Gold investors will be closely watching U.S. data in the
second quarter for clues as to the likelihood of a fresh round
of monetary easing, which could potentially hurt the dollar and
"A shift in focus from the negatives in the euro zone to the
negatives in the U.S. may influence gold prices in the medium
term," HSBC analysts said in a note.
"The failure to address the key issue of the U.S. budget
deficit while the Fed maintains a zero interest rate policy is
positive for safe-haven assets like gold," they added.
U.S. gold futures for June delivery were up $12.30 an
ounce at $1,667.20.
Canada's Argonaut Gold Inc said on Friday its
quarterly profit more than doubled, helped by increased volumes
and higher gold prices.
Silver was up 1 percent at $32.52 an ounce. The
gold/silver ratio, or the number of silver ounces needed to buy
an ounce of gold, eased back towards 51 on Friday.
Spot platinum was up 0.8 percent at $1,635.74 an ounce
and is on track for its best quarterly performance in three
years, up 17.6 percent. Palladium was up 0.7 percent at
$647.22 an ounce.
South Africa's government is to plough $420 million into a
public-private platinum venture with Pallinghurst Resources
that has ambitions to become the world's third-largest
producer of the precious metal, Pallinghurst said on Thursday.
The partnership, which includes the local Bakgatla Ba
Kgafela tribe, has a production target of 1.1 million ounces
within the next five years. That would make it the biggest
producer behind Anglo American Platinum and Impala