* Disappointing China growth, U.S. retail data limit losses
* China, India premiums on physical products stay high
* CFTC data shows speculative short position at record high
(New updates throughout, adds comment, details, second byline,
By Frank Tang and Clara Denina
NEW YORK/LONDON, July 15 Gold eased in quiet
trade on Monday after last week's sharp gain, as investors await
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony before U.S.
Congress later this week for market cues.
The metal rose overnight after data showed China's economic
growth slowed in the second quarter, and later a report showed
U.S. retail sales rose less than expected in June.
Bullion investors now focus on Bernanke's semi-annual
testimony to Congressional committees this Wednesday and
Thursday, which will be watched for further signs about the
timing and speed of any reduction in bond purchases.
Gold gained 5 percent last week, its biggest weekly gain in
nearly 2 years, after Bernanke said the U.S. central bank needed
to keep a stimulative monetary policy in place given an
uncertain job market and low inflation.
"Although prices have responded to concerns over growth, in
our view, a deterioration in U.S. macro data would be required
for prices to make a sustained move higher in light of record
gross short positions," said Suki Cooper, precious metals
strategist at Barclays Capital.
Spot gold inched down 49 cents to $1,283.80 an ounce
by 2:59 p.m. EDT (1859 GMT).
U.S. gold futures for August delivery settled up
$5.90 at $1,283.50 an ounce, with trading volume about 30
percent below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data
Hedge funds and money managers raised bullish bets in gold
and futures and options for a second straight week, as signs of
tight physical supplies sparked buying, a report by the
Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed on Friday. However,
speculators also boosted their short position to a record high.
ASIAN PHYSICAL PREMIUMS HIGH
The cost of borrowing gold stayed near its highest level
since January 2009, reflecting dwindling supplies from bullion
banks after heavy liquidation and resilient demand for physical
Trading volumes for gold and silver on the Shanghai Futures
Exchange (ShFE) rose to record volume on Friday, with premiums
in Asian gold products remained at sharply higher levels than in
North America and Europe.
"The strength in China and India gold premiums, the recent
move higher in gold lease rates and central bank gold buying
indicate physical demand for gold may provide some support in
the near term," Deutsche Bank commodities strategists said in a
However, investor sentiment remained guarded. Holdings of
the world's largest gold-backed ETF SPDR Gold Trust posted
the biggest weekly loss of 2.6 percent since the end of April
last week. The fund has seen outflows of over 13 million ounces,
or about $17 billion at current prices, so far this year.
Among other metals, silver gained 0.3 percent to
$19.93 an ounce, having risen nearly 6 percent last week.
Supply fears due to mine labor issues in South Africa
continue to boost platinum group metals. Platinum rose
1.4 percent to $1,421.24 an ounce, while palladium was up
1.6 percent to $729.50 an ounce.
2:59 PM EDT LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT
SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL
US Gold AUG 1283.50 5.90 0.5 1272.50 1293.60 106,996
US Silver SEP 19.839 0.047 0.2 19.540 20.135 23,930
US Plat OCT 1421.40 14.50 1.0 1407.00 1427.00 5,255
US Pall SEP 732.15 9.25 1.3 721.45 734.55 2,167
Gold 1283.80 -0.49 0.0 1276.45 1294.46
Silver 19.930 0.060 0.3 19.700 20.140
Platinum 1421.24 19.74 1.4 1406.00 1423.00
Palladium 729.50 11.50 1.6 724.00 731.25
TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY
CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG
US Gold 132,979 193,507 179,431 22.93 -0.50
US Silver 25,823 66,385 56,418 29.42 -1.94
US Platinum 5,326 16,183 13,073 24.21 -1.95
US Palladium 2,206 4,418 5,519
(Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore;
Editing by Anthony Barker, Jeff Coelho and Nick Zieminski)