* Gold breaks ranks with euro, ends week with 3 pct gain
* Silver eases after touching five-month high
* Platinum takes breather after strike-related gains
* Coming up: U.S. pending home sales Monday
(Updates comment, market activity)
By Frank Tang and Jan Harvey
NEW YORK/LONDON, Feb 24 Gold prices fell
on Friday, breaking ranks with the euro, as sharp
gains from earlier in the week based on economic optimism and a
Greek bailout deal prompted investors to take profits.
Silver touched a five-month high after climbing past its
200-day moving average. Analysts, however, said it looks
vulnerable for a pullback after the sharp rise.
Bullion posted its largest weekly rise in four weeks, as
expectations for further easing by China and a near-zero
interest-rate outlook for the next several years boosted the
metal's inflation-hedge appeal.
News that Europe sealed a rescue package for Greece to avert
an imminent chaotic default lifted gold along with the euro and
other riskier assets. Other investors bought gold on fears of
more European monetary easing and lingering doubts about
Greece's ability to implement deep cuts.
"When the debt crisis showed signs of easing, people started
to look at gold's correlation with the equity market," said Min
Tang-Varner, securities analyst at investment research firm
"It's a delicate balance about whether or not gold is
considered a wealth accumulation tool or a commodity," she said.
Spot gold was down 0.5 percent at $1,771.36 an ounce
by 2:41 p.m. EST (1941 GMT), heading for a three-percent rise
for the week.
The metal is on track for its second consecutive monthly
gain after it flirted with entering a bear market in late
Gold ignored the dollar's weakness, which usually supports
the metal. However, further losses in bullion were limited by
inflation fears as Brent crude futures rose above $125 a barrel.
U.S. gold futures for April delivery settled down
$9.90 an ounce at $1,776.40. Volume was 25 percent below its
30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed, largely in line
with its recent trading pace.
Gold has risen 13.5 percent this year. However, it appears
to struggle to gain further to approach its record at $1,920.30
"It is not our favourite position to go long gold at these
high levels," LGT Capital Management analyst Bayram Dincer said.
"The potential for disappointment, and price consolidation, is a
SILVER SET FOR BIG WEEKLY RISE
Silver peaked at $35.70 an ounce, the highest
interday price since September 23. Its rally picked up momentum
after breaking through its 200-day moving average at $34.84 on
It ended down 0.2 percent at $35.26 an ounce.
Silver prices are up nearly 7 percent this week for their
best weekly performance since mid-January. It is set for a gain
of nearly 30 percent year to date, making it the best performing
precious metal so far in 2012.
The gold/silver ratio, the number of silver ounces needed to
buy an ounce of gold, dipped to 50 on Friday, the lowest since
late October, as silver prices outperformed.
"Silver looks like it is rallying more with gold than on its
own merit, in our view. This may leave it open for a pullback,"
said James Steel, chief commodity analyst at HSBC.
Platinum group metals, meanwhile, took a breather after
hitting five-month highs earlier this week on supply worries
related to a strike in top producer South Africa.
Spot platinum was down 0.8 percent at $1,703.60 an
ounce, while spot palladium was down 1.5 percent at
$705.95 an ounce.
2:41 PM EST LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT
SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL
US Gold APR 1776.40 -9.90 -0.6 1771.30 1784.40 126,209
US Silver MAR 35.338 -0.218 -0.6 35.190 35.720 50,849
US Plat APR 1715.10 -7.90 -0.5 1708.50 1729.90 8,367
US Pall MAR 710.75 -7.65 -1.1 708.50 720.00 5,527
Gold 1771.36 -8.43 -0.5 1771.25 1782.50
Silver 35.260 -0.070 -0.2 35.210 35.700
Platinum 1703.60 -14.39 -0.8 1701.00 1724.50
Palladium 705.95 -11.05 -1.5 710.98 717.25
TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY
CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG
US Gold 149,071 195,919 194,880 19.69 -0.56
US Silver 78,350 52,163 45,337 33.04 0.82
US Platinum 9,136 7,626 7,884 26.81 -0.02
US Palladium 10,368 4,502 4,306
(Editing by Bob Burgdorfer; Editing by Alden Bentley)