NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gold edged up on Friday as market sentiment improved after Russia revealed it had boosted its bullion reserves in June, but losses in equities and crude oil amid uncertainty over the euro zone debt crisis limited further gains.
The metal fell in early trade as the euro tumbled after Spain’s Valencia region said it would seek central government help to repay its debts, heightening fears over the fiscal problems of the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy.
Gold investors later turned their focus on news that Russia’s central bank raised its gold reserves by 6.2 metric tons (6.8 tons) to 836.3 metric tons (921.9 tons) in June. Official-sector buying has underpinned gold’s rallies in the last several years.
Bullion, however, posted a 0.2 percent weekly loss after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke earlier this week gave no hint of new monetary easing. In addition, a string of sluggish U.S. economic data stirred deflation worries, denting gold’s inflation-hedge appeal.
“We continue to find some relatively significant support at levels below $1,570 as markets are viewing them as a buying opportunity. They will remain the near-term levels of support,” said David Meger, director of metals trading at brokerage Vision Financial Markets.
Spot gold inched up 0.2 percent to $1,584.20 an ounce by 2:46 p.m. EDT (1846 GMT), rebounding from a low at $1,573.14 earlier in the session.
The metal has dropped toward or briefly below $1,570 an ounce several times this week but managed to hold each time. Gold has been moving in a trading range between $1,527 and $1,655 in the past three months.
“We think a break under $1,500 an ounce could open the floodgates on the downside and end the bull market that started over 10 years ago,” said Mark Arbeter, chief technical strategist at S&P Capital IQ.
U.S. COMEX August gold futures for August delivery settled up $2.40 an ounce at $1,582.80, with trading volume at 20 percent below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
A one-percent drop of the S&P 500 index .SPX and retreating crude oil prices also capped bullion's upside, offsetting record highs in U.S. corn and grain futures which have underpinned gold this week.
On the options front, 30-day implied volatility for at-the-money gold options has dropped 12 percent to a reading of 15 on Thursday - which marked the lowest since early May - from 17 on Monday.
TD Securities strategists said in a note that gold and silver implied volatilities seemed to be bottoming out and they believed current levels are attractive buys.
Gold demand in India - one of the world’s top gold buying countries - remained disappointing as the rupee stayed near a record low against the dollar, making gold more expensive for Indian consumers. Gold imports into India have already seen a more than 50 percent drop this year.
The world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund SPDR Gold Trust, reported a nine-ton drop in its holdings on Thursday, its biggest one-day outflow since May 22, bringing its total reserves to a six-month low.
Among other precious metals, silver was up 0.5 percent at $27.30 an ounce, while spot platinum edged down 0.3 percent to $1,408.07 an ounce and spot palladium dropped 1.4 percent to $571.43 an ounce.
Additional reporting by Jan Harvey in London; Editing by Dale Hudson and Tim Dobbyn