* Gold gains on easing hopes after weak U.S. GDP
* Some safe-haven bids seen on Spanish debt downgrade
* Silver posts weekly drop, retail sales weak
* Coming up: U.S. personal income data on Monday
(Adds details, comment, updates market activity)
By Frank Tang and Jan Harvey
NEW YORK/LONDON, April 27 Gold rose for a fourth
consecutive session o n F riday and posted its biggest weekly gain
since late February, as disappointing U.S. growth and European
debt jitters boosted investment demand for the precious metal.
Bullion buying accelerated after a report showed U.S.
economic growth cooled in the first quarter as businesses cut
back on investment. Some safe-haven demand also
supported prices after a credit downgrade of Spain's sovereign
debt by Standard & Poor's.
Gold's four-day rise was underpinned by option-related
buying and after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said o n
W ednesday the U.S. central bank would not hesitate to launch
another round of bond purchases to boost growth if necessary.
"The GDP data may confirm ongoing stimulatory U.S. monetary
policies, which is positive for gold," said James Steel, chief
commodity analyst at HSBC.
Gold's rise in the face of renewed Spanish debt fears was
also seen as bullish, as the metal has tended to follow equities
and riskier markets most of this year, Steel said.
Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,663.11 an ounce by
2:51 p.m. EDT (1851 GMT).
For the week, bullion posted a 1.3 percent gain, the largest
in eight weeks.
U.S. gold futures for June delivery settled up $4.30
at $1,664.80 an ounce. Trading volume was below 100,000 lots at
3 p.m., preliminary Reuters data showed, set to be one of the
lowest turnovers for the year.
The precious metal has lost about $125 an ounce since the
end of February after a string of encouraging U.S. economic
indicators dashed hopes of further monetary easing by the Fed.
In addition, a lessening of fears about the European debt
crisis prompted some funds to increase their bullish bets on
riskier assets such as equities and reduce positions on gold.
For the year to date, gold has gained around 6 percent,
underperforming an increase of about 12 percent in U.S. equities
as measured by the S&P 500 index.
SILVER COIN SALES WEAK
The metal stayed well within the narrow range it has stuck
to this month, however, as a dearth of buying by key bullion
consumer India curbed gains.
Among other precious metals, silver put on 0.7
percent at $31.30 an ounce.
Silver ended the week down 1 percent after sliding below $30
an ounce for the first time since mid-January on Wednesday.
Prices fell in six of the previous eight weeks.
Retail demand disappointed after a brisk start to the year.
U.S. American Eagle silver coins are on track to log their
lowest monthly sales in April since July 2008, figures from the
U.S. Mint showed.
Spot platinum gained 0.4 percent at $1,568.99 an
ounce, while palladium was up 1.8 percent at $678.97.
2:51 PM EDT LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT
SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL
US Gold JUN 1664.80 4.30 0.3 1651.10 1668.40 91,214
US Silver MAY 31.347 0.140 0.4 30.885 31.395 20,402
US Plat JUL 1575.70 5.50 0.4 1562.70 1579.60 4,295
US Pall JUN 681.50 8.85 1.3 667.35 683.75 3,597
Gold 1663.11 5.83 0.4 1651.15 1667.11
Silver 31.300 0.210 0.7 30.940 31.420
Platinum 1568.99 6.56 0.4 1561.00 1573.74
Palladium 678.97 11.89 1.8 669.00 679.97
TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY
CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG
US Gold 97,536 173,194 196,118 16.99 -0.34
US Silver 56,822 54,551 65,520 26.56 -3.15
US Platinum 4,355 7,040 8,368 19 0.00
US Palladium 4,183 2,607 4,691
(Editing by Dale Hudson)