March 29, 2012 / 3:55 AM / 7 years ago

PRECIOUS-Gold gives up early gains; tracks equities lower

* Gold hits a high above $1,664, then slips
    * Coming Up: U.S. weekly jobless claims; 1230 GMT

 (Updates prices)	
    By Lewa Pardomuan	
    SINGAPORE, March 29 (Reuters) - Gold fell on Thursday after
a rebound in the U.S. dollar erased early gains, while weaker
equities also prompted investors to sell bullion to cover losses
while waiting for more clues on the health of the U.S. economy.	
    Traders said the upcoming end-of-quarter was dampening
trade, while the release of U.S. weekly jobless claims later
could set the tone for the dollar. Economists in a Reuters
survey forecast a total of 350,000 new filings compared with
348,000 in the prior week.   	
    Gold hit a high of $1,664.79 an ounce before slipping
to $1,658.70 by 0607 GMT, down $4.42. Gold fell 1.3 percent on
Wednesday after data showing a smaller-than-expected rise in new
U.S. manufactured goods orders spurred selling in commodities.	
    "There's end-quarter selling, some profit taking, and the
dollar is a bit strong. People are only buying a small amount of
physical gold because I think the global economy is still
struggling," said Ronald Leung, director of Lee Cheong Gold
Dealers in Hong Kong. 	
     "It's going to be range trading for a little while,
watching currencies and their direction." 	
    Gold hit a two-week high near $1,700 an ounce on Tuesday on
expectations of monetary easing in the United States after
Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke cautioned it is too soon
to declare victory in the U.S. recovery 	
     U.S. gold for April delivery hardly moved at
$1,658.80 an ounce after rising as high as $1,664.50 an ounce.  	
    The dollar index steadied at 79.079 after falling to
a near one-month low of 78.770 on Tuesday, while the euro 
was little changed at $1.3325. Investors will closely watch the
outcome of a Italian bond sale as Rome aims to sell up to 8.25
billion euros of debt.  	
    Bullion raced to a record of around $1,920 last September on
 fears the euro debt crisis could stall global growth.   	
    In equities, Asian shares eased for a second day in a row as
investors limited their risk exposures on concerns about growth
prospects in the world's two largest economies, the United
States and China. 	
    Wednesday's data showed new orders for U.S. durables
increased only modestly in February, below analysts' forecasts, 
while a gauge of future business investment also fell short of
expectations, raising the prospect that economic growth in the
first quarter could be lacklustre.  	
    "It's really quiet, and I think it's related to the
end-quarter period. People are reluctant to do anything. Both
sides are quiet, and that's why we've also seen some liquidation
in gold," said a dealer in Hong Kong.	
    Holdings of the largest gold-backed exchange-traded-fund
(ETF), New York's SPDR Gold Trust  and that of the largest
silver-backed ETF, New York's iShares Silver Trust were
unchanged after edging down 0.16 percent to 1,286.62 tonnes by
  Precious metals prices 0607 GMT
  Metal             Last    Change  Pct chg  YTD pct chg    Volume
  Spot Gold        1658.70   -4.42   -0.27      6.07
  Spot Silver        31.98   -0.03   -0.09     15.49
  Spot Platinum    1630.19    0.26   +0.02     17.03
  Spot Palladium    642.70    0.37   +0.06     -1.50
  COMEX GOLD APR2  1658.80    0.90   +0.05      5.87         4004
  COMEX SILVER MAY2  31.99    0.15   +0.48     14.58         2328
  Euro/Dollar       1.3326
  Dollar/Yen         82.62
  COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
 (Editing by Sugita Katyal)
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