July 30, 2013 / 10:26 AM / 6 years ago

PRECIOUS-Gold eases in quiet trade, all eyes on Fed meeting

* U.S. home prices, consumer confidence disappoint
    * ECB, BOE meetings, U.S. jobs data due this week
    * India gold imports halted, David Einhorn bullish on gold
    * Coming up: U.S. real GDP data, FOMC statement Wednesday

 (Adds details on India gold import, hedge fund Greenlight's
comment)
    By Frank Tang and Clara Denina 
    NEW YORK/LONDON, July 30 (Reuters) - Gold inched lower in
quiet trading on Tuesday as participants largely stayed on the
sidelines ahead of a Federal Reserve policy statement on
Wednesday that may provide clues on the pace at which it plans
to scale back its bond-buying program.
    Bullion pared earlier losses on signs the U.S. economy may
be slowing as data showed home prices in May rose less than
expected and consumer confidence waned in July. 
    The Fed is scheduled to release a policy statement Wednesday
afternoon after its two-day meeting. Traders will be looking for
clues as to when the U.S. central bank will start tapering its
$85 billion monthly bond purchases.
    Gold plunged 5 percent after the Fed's June meeting when it
gave its most explicit signal yet that it plans to wind down the
era of easy money. However, Fed chief Ben Bernanke's subsequent
remarks about the need to keep a stimulative policy in place
given low inflation and an uncertain market triggered a gold
rally.
    "If Bernanke comes out and specifically indicates that there
is underlying weakness in the jobs market, then I think gold is
going to go much higher," said Jeffrey Sica, chief investment
officer at Sica Wealth, which manages over $1 billion in client
assets.
    Spot gold was down 58 cents to $1,326.41 an ounce by
3:03 p.m. EDT (1903 GMT), having traded in a narrow $10 range.
    U.S. gold futures for August delivery settled down
$4.40 to $1,324 an ounce, with trading volume about 20 percent
below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
    Fed officials are likely to have a lively debate on how best
to prepare financial markets for a reduction of their
bond-buying program but appear certain to wait for further
economic data before curtailing their stimulus. 
    Gold moved above $1,300 last week for the first time in a
month on Bernanke's comments that any reduction in bond
purchases was not set in stone and depended on the strength of
the economy. 
    The Fed previously said it was likely to begin reducing its
stimulus program later in 2013 and halt it altogether by
mid-2014.

    INDIA IMPORTS HALTED, EINHORN BULLISH
    In the physical market, India's imports of gold have halted
since July 22, sending premiums for scarce stocks soaring, as
traders in the world's biggest bullion buyer try to puzzle out
new central bank rules that tie imports to export volumes.
 
    David Einhorn, head of hedge fund Greenlight Capital and a
long-time gold bull, said his optimism about gold "has not
changed" and that his investment portfolio now had an equal
exposure to gold miners and gold bullion. 
    Analysts said gold may have a choppy ride for the rest of
the week because of policy meetings at the European Central Bank
and the Bank of England later this week, and the all-important
U.S. jobs report for July due on Friday.
    Among other precious metals, silver fell 0.4 percent
to $19.73 an ounce, almost $1 lower than the one-month high of
$20.60 hit last week. Platinum dropped 0.5 percent to
$1,432.75 an ounce and palladium was down 2.1 percent to
$726.72 an ounce.
 3:03 PM EDT     LAST/    NET   PCT      LOW    HIGH  CURRENT
                SETTLE   CHNG  CHNG                       VOL
 US Gold AUG   1324.00  -4.40  -0.3  1316.20 1329.60   43,163
 US Silver SEP  19.680 -0.184  -0.9   19.500  19.875   27,998
 US Plat OCT   1437.50  -5.20  -0.4  1430.60 1446.70    5,165
 US Pall SEP    728.65 -16.00  -2.1   723.50  743.65    3,356
                                                              
 Gold          1326.41  -0.58   0.0  1318.83 1329.77         
 Silver         19.730 -0.080  -0.4   19.570  19.890
 Platinum      1432.75  -6.75  -0.5  1432.50 1442.50
 Palladium      726.72 -15.28  -2.1   726.50  741.25
                                                              
 TOTAL MARKET              VOLUME          30-D ATM VOLATILITY
                CURRENT   30D AVG  250D AVG   CURRENT     CHG
 US Gold        168,566   214,499   186,240     25.34    3.05
 US Silver       31,278    59,991    55,562     29.76    1.85
 US Platinum      5,301    14,893    12,561     23.77    0.00
 US Palladium     3,645     4,302     5,485                  
                                                              
 
 (Editing by James Jukwey, Jane Baird, Bob Burgdorfer and James
Dalgleish)
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