* Platinum rises to three-month high, regains premium over
* Tokyo gold hits record high for second session
* Spot gold neutral in $1,653-$1,678 range -technicals
* Coming Up: U.S. retail sales, Dec; 1330 GMT
(Adds details, comments; writes through; updates prices)
By Rujun Shen
SINGAPORE, Jan 15 Platinum hit a three-month
high on Tuesday, regaining its premium over gold for the first
time since last March as supply concerns lifted prices, while
gold struggled to break through a recent price range on the lack
of a fresh catalyst.
News that Anglo American Platinum, the world's top
platinum producer, would indefinitely close four of its shafts
in South Africa's platinum belt and sell its Union mine sent
platinum up 2.1 percent to a three-month high of $1,691 an
Platinum consequently regained its premium over gold, having
gained favour with investors expecting higher prices for the
metal, which is used mainly to produce jewellery and
autocatalysts, against the backdrop of an improving global
Spot gold was poised to test the upside limit of a recent
range between $1,653 and $1,678, although the strength could be
short-lived, as gold investors gauge the possibility of
withdrawal of monetary stimulus by key central banks, such as
the Federal Reserve.
Investors are also watching the bickering over raising the
U.S. debt limit in Washington. A failure to raise the limit
would see the United States default as early as mid-February.
"The gold market may go through a repeat of what we saw in
December, namely, varying 'mood swings' that will result in
directionless trading," Ed Meir, an analyst at INTL FCStone,
said in a research note.
"Silver will likely shadow gold quite closely, but palladium
and platinum could decouple somewhat, as they seem to be more
responsive to the fundamentals that, on balance, are quite
Spot gold rose half a percent to $1,674.28 an ounce
by 0719 GMT.
U.S. gold crawled up 0.3 percent to $1,674.40.
Technical analysis suggested that spot gold remained neutral
in the range of $1,653 to $1,678 an ounce during the day, said
Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.
The dollar wallowed near a 1-1/2-week low against a basket
of currencies, after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments
suggested the central bank was not in a hurry to withdraw
A weaker greenback supports dollar-denominated commodities
by attracting buyers holding other currencies.
TOCOM GOLD HITS RECORD FOR SECOND DAY
The benchmark gold contract on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange
rose to a record high of 4,821 yen a gram as mounting
pressure on the Bank of Japan to launch more monetary-easing
measures kept the yen near a 2-1/2-year low against the dollar.
The high yen-gold prices have teased out some selling from
retail investors, but raised expectations that Japanese
investors may again look at gold as an attractive buy if
aggressive easing continues to weigh on the currency.
"We started to see some selling at the end of last week, but
it was not as much as the August to December period in 2011,"
said a Tokyo-based trader.
Spot gold hit a record high of more than $1,920 an ounce in
"If Japan ever starts to worry about inflation, there may be
a good chance that investors will buy gold again," the trader
Precious metals prices 0719 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume
Spot Gold 1674.28 7.48 +0.45 -0.02
Spot Silver 31.14 0.13 +0.42 2.84
Spot Platinum 1685.11 30.86 +1.87 9.78
Spot Palladium 709.00 8.00 +1.14 2.46
COMEX GOLD FEB3 1674.40 5.00 +0.30 -0.08 19103
COMEX SILVER MAR3 31.18 0.07 +0.21 3.13 6784
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)