January 13, 2015 / 10:41 AM / 4 years ago

PRECIOUS-Gold steadies in choppy dealings, silver rallies

* Gold briefly rallies to highest since October

* Oil pares losses after touching near 6-year low

* Platinum underperforms, returns to parity with gold (Updates prices; adds comment)

By Marcy Nicholson and Jan Harvey

NEW YORK/LONDON, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Gold was little changed on Tuesday, paring gains after hitting technical resistance at a 12-week high, moving in choppy trading as the dollar returned near its session highs and as crude oil prices pared steep losses.

Silver rose 4 percent to a one-month high on potential supply concerns.

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,231.60 an ounce by 3:06 p.m. EST (2006 GMT), while U.S. gold futures for February delivery settled 0.1 percent higher at $1,234.40.

Earlier, investors sought refuge from turbulence in stock and currency markets after crude oil prices slid to a near six-year low.

The gold price peaked at $1,243.60, just below the 150-day moving average and its highest since mid-October, before retreating as European stocks turned higher and the dollar recovered from an early low. U.S. stocks fell later in the session, but failed to provide gold with any support.

Edward Meir, senior commodity analyst at INTL FCStone in Connecticut, called this “puzzling”

“If equity weakness intensifies on account of this oil related nervousness, gold will look attractive because it will tee off on this anxiety,” Meir said.

Gold has risen more than 4 percent this month as equities, which were boosted last year by hope the U.S. economy was on the road to recovery, have come under pressure. Strength in stocks helped to push down gold prices 1.5 percent in 2014.

U.S. stocks fell in afternoon trading, reversing earlier gains of more than 1 percent, led by a drop in materials and energy shares as commodity prices fell further.

The dollar gained, still benefiting from more upbeat U.S. economic prospects compared with the rest of the world that should keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates this year.

The U.S. currency had skidded to its lowest level in a month against the yen as Treasury yields fell because of increased demand for safe-haven assets against a backdrop of plunging oil prices.

Silver was up 3 percent at $17.03 an ounce, after rising 4 percent to $17.19, the highest since Dec. 12, garnering support from potential supply concerns as the price of copper tumbles. Silver is a byproduct of copper mining.

Platinum returned to parity with gold after spending most of the past 18 months at a premium to the yellow metal. Spot platinum was down 0.1 percent at $1,236.98 an ounce, while spot palladium was 0.6 percent higher at $810.98 an ounce. (Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by William Hardy, David Goodman, Susan Fenton and Andre Grenon)

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