April 26, 2013 / 5:06 AM / 5 years ago

PRECIOUS-Gold up more than 1 pct, heads for best week in 1-1/2 years

* 'Panic buying' can drive price to $1,500-$1,525-dealer
    * Gold to extend gain to $1,504-technicals 
    * Premiums at multi-year highs on supply shortage

    By Lewa Pardomuan
    SINGAPORE, April 26 (Reuters) - Gold was headed for its
biggest weekly gain in one-and-a-half years after rising more
than 1 percent on Friday as a mid-month plunge in prices
triggered bargain-hunting and a surge in physical buying across
    Bullion still attracted buying even though the price had
rebounded more than $100 since falling to a two-year trough of 
around $1,321 last week, with dealers reporting a shortage in
gold bars, coins, nuggets and other products.
    Gold was up $6.26 at $1,473.25 an ounce by 0624 GMT, 
off an initial high of $1,484.81, its strongest since April 15.
It was poised to be up around 5 percent for the week. The metal
posted its biggest daily rise since June on Thursday, but was
still down 12 percent this year.
    "There's panic buying. Everybody is buying gold. It still
has a chance to go up to $1,500 and maybe a bit more. $1,525 is
then the big barrier," said Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee
Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.
    "It's not easy to go back down to $1,400 as long as the
physical market is still tight. The thing is that there are no
immediate stocks." 
    Gold was also supported by prospects of more central bank
buying after Russia and Turkey raised their gold reserves in
March, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday,
increasing their holdings ahead of a spectacular plunge in
prices this month. 
    U.S. gold futures for June delivery rose as high as
$1,484.80 an ounce.
    Premiums for gold bars in Hong Kong jumped to at their
highest level since October 2011 this week, at up to $3 an ounce
to spot London prices, partly because of an increase in buying
interest from China, the world's second-largest consumer after
    Premiums in Singapore stayed at their highest since October
2008 at $3 an ounce to the spot London prices on demand from
Indonesia, Thailand and India. 
    "You must be prepared to pay up. I would think premiums will
remain high in the short-term because of a shortage in immediate
stocks. You have to wait for three days if you want to get gold
now," said a dealer in Singapore.
    "The Indonesians have told me they should start selling at
above $1,450, but they are actually buying some this morning,
although the amount is not great. Local demand in Thailand is
still good. I also see a pick up in demand for silver," the
dealer added. 
    Silver rose as high as $24.82 an ounce, its highest
since April 15. Prices sank to $22.04 last week, the weakest
since October 2010. 
    But a daily drop in exchange-traded funds' holdings
suggested that gold investors were still licking their wounds
after bullion's historic fall last week, which shocked ardent
gold investors and bulls.
    Holdings of the largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund,
the SPDR Gold Trust, dipped 0.25 percent on Thursday from
Wednesday. The current holdings are at multi-year lows.
    In other markets, Asian shares rose on Friday, tracking
global equities higher after an upbeat U.S. labour market
report, while the dollar eased on caution ahead of first-quarter
growth data from the world's biggest economy. 
  Precious metals prices 0624 GMT
  Metal             Last    Change  Pct chg  YTD pct chg    Volume
  Spot Gold        1473.25    6.26   +0.43    -12.02
  Spot Silver        24.31   -0.02   -0.08    -19.72
  Spot Platinum    1465.24   -1.26   -0.09     -4.54
  Spot Palladium    677.50   -2.50   -0.37     -2.10
  COMEX GOLD JUN3  1473.10   11.10   +0.76    -12.10        41350
  COMEX SILVER MAY3  24.29    0.15   +0.60    -19.67        11450
  Euro/Dollar       1.3025
  Dollar/Yen         98.74
0 : 0
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