* Safe-haven bids lift gold, silver as Wall St down
* EU gives Cyprus ultimatum, euro exit seen possible
* Gold on track to rise five out of six sessions
* Coming up: EU gives Cyprus until Monday to raise fund for
By Frank Tang
NEW YORK, March 21 Gold rose to a near one-month
high on Thursday, as safe-haven buying emerged after the
European Union gave Cyprus an ultimatum to raise billions of
euros it needs to clinch a bailout deal or face a likely exit
from the currency zone.
The metal has risen in five of six sessions on resurgent
fears about euro zone debt fears, and on hopes that the U.S.
Federal Reserve will maintain aggressive stimulus to battle
Silver also rose 1.5 percent, on track for its biggest
one-day gain in almost two months.
The European Central Bank said it would cut off liquidity to
Cypriot banks and a senior EU official said the bloc was ready
to see the bankrupt island banished from the euro zone. Earlier
this week, global markets slid as Cypriot lawmakers rejected a
plan to tax bank deposits to repay debt.
"The Cyprus situation has ignited purchasing of gold from
the public who are now becoming concerned that the same can
happen where they live," said Miguel Perez-Santalla, vice
president at online precious metals exchange BullionVault.
Spot gold rose to $1,616.36 an ounce, its highest
since Feb. 26. It was later up 0.4 percent at $1,612.86 by 12:46
p.m. EST ( 1646 GMT).
For the week, gold is set for a gain of 1.4 percent, which
would be its biggest one-week rise since November.
Technical analysts said gold looked set for more gains after
it broke above $1,613, a downward trendline resistance on daily
U.S. gold futures for April delivery gained $4.60 to
$1,612.10, with trading volume on track to finish below its
150-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
Safe-haven bids were evident as U.S. equities fell while
investors kept an eye on events in Cyprus. Wall Street declined
as weak technology stocks overshadowed a batch of data
suggesting U.S. economic recovery was on the right track.
However, analysts said weakness from wider markets related
to uncertainty surrounding Cyprus could also pressure gold as
they sold bullion to cover losses elsewhere.
Gold's 12-year bull run has benefited in the last three
years from the euro zone crisis. In September, 2011, fears about
Greece's debt problems sent bullion to its record high of $1,920
an ounce while equities plunged.
SILVER JUMPS, GOLD ETF HOLDINGS STEADY
Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's biggest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, stood unchanged from a day
earlier at 1,222.162 tonnes on Tuesday. The ETF on Monday posted
its first daily inflow since early February.
Silver, which is widely used in industrial applications,
outperformed gold after data showed a pickup in the growth of
China's vast manufacturing sector.
Spot silver gained 1.4 percent to $29.17.
Among platinum group metals, platinum rose 0.1
percent to $1,576.24, while palladium was down 0.2
percent to $755.25.
Investors now digested news Switzerland's palladium exports
jumped last month to its highest since September 2008.
Prices at 12:46 p.m. EDT (1646 GMT)
LAST NET PCT YTD
CHG CHG CHG
US gold 1612.10 4.60 0.3% -3.8%
US silver 29.160 0.343 1.2% -3.5%
US platinum 1581.00 -1.50 -0.1% 2.7%
US palladium 758.00 -0.20 0.0% 7.8%
Gold 1612.86 6.97 0.4% -3.7%
Silver 29.17 0.41 1.4% -3.8%
Platinum 1576.24 1.74 0.1% 2.5%
Palladium 755.25 -1.75 -0.2% 7.6%
Gold Fix 1613.75 5.00 0.3% -3.0%
Silver Fix 28.91 1.00 0.0% -3.5%
Platinum Fix 1583.00 1.00 0.1% 3.9%
Palladium Fix 761.00 2.00 0.3% 8.9%