December 27, 2011 / 3:25 AM / in 6 years

PRECIOUS-Gold falls; US data, Europe eyed

(Updates prices)

* Spot gold falls to one-week low of $1,591.09/oz

* Coming up: U.S. Dec consumer confidence; 1500

SHANGHAI/LONDON, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Gold fell on Tuesday but remained range-bound around $1,600 as investors stayed on the sidelines in the final week of the year, subdued by concerns about the euro zone debt crisis.

Recent U.S. economic data had spurred a rally in riskier assets including equities and industrial metals and sent gold prices up about half a percent last week.

Investors will look for more signs of recovery in the United States from data this week, including consumer confidence for December due later on Tuesday.

“Gold prices may be under pressure from a strengthening dollar in the next few months as the brightened economic prospects in the United States are likely to further boost the dollar index,” said Li Ning, an analyst at Shanghai CIFCO Futures.

The dollar was down against a basket of currencies on Tuesday but was still on course for a second straight quarter of gains as fears about the worsening euro zone crisis drove investors to seek safety in the greenback.

Spot gold fell to a one-week low of $1,591.09 earlier and recovered slightly to $1,596.15 by 1414 GMT, down 0.6 percent. U.S. gold dropped 0.5 percent to $1,597.70.

In the week to Dec. 20, silver and gold speculators cut their bullish bets for the third consecutive week, with silver net long positions down by more than half, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said.

Market participants are also watching Italy’s last bond auctions of the year later this week after the 10-year Italian bond yield broke above 7 percent, seen as an unsustainably high level.

“Although gold’s outlook remains supported in the medium to long term by central banks’ gold buying, among other factors, risks such as rising bond yields in Italy will send more safe haven flow to the dollar and pressure gold,” said Li of Shanghai CIFCO.

Prospects of slower global growth have led some central banks to loosen their monetary policies. The launch of quantitative easing by the U.S. Federal Reserve or the European Central Bank would provide support for commodities, including gold, analysts have said.

The European Central Bank should launch a U.S.-style asset purchase programme if economic conditions change, executive board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi said, opening the door to a possible policy shift at the bank to combat deflation.

Holdings of the iShares Silver Trust SLV, the world’s biggest silver-backed exchange-traded fund, declined nearly 1 percent on the day to 9,605.79 tonnes by Dec. 23, the lowest since mid-July.

Reporting by Rujun Shen,; additional reporting by Susan Thomas, editing by Jane Baird

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