May 23, 2008 / 7:38 PM / 12 years ago

UPDATE 6-Gold ends firmer on oil gains, bargain hunting

 (Recasts, updates with quotes, closing prices, market activity, adds NEW YORK to dateline)
 By Frank Tang and Lewa Pardomuan
 NEW YORK/LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) - Gold bounced on Friday, capping a week of solid gains on the back of a sharp crude oil rally and after a drop from a one-month high spurred buying from bargain hunters.
 Spot gold XAU= was at $925.20/926.60 an ounce by New York's last quote at 2:15 p.m. EDT (1815 GMT), compared with $917.60/918.80 an ounce late in New York on Thursday when it jumped to its highest in more than a month at $935.30 before falling sharply as oil trimmed gains.
 Bullion has gained nearly 3 percent this week on the back of record energy prices.
 "If the crude market continues to stay firm, and it looks like it will, the gold market should follow suit," said one New York-based precious metals broker.
 He also said that the price of gold should be supported in the near term as the likelihood of massive profit-taking in crude oil was slim.
 But still, gold has in the past two months struggled to sustain the uptrend since spiking to a lifetime high of $1,030.80 an ounce on March 17, falling to a four-month low of $845 an ounce in early May as investors booked profits.
 "I don't sense there's huge enthusiasm right now for gold," said Stephen Briggs, economist at SG Corporate and Investment Banking.
 "So I suspect for the moment it's going to remain sort of tracking inversely, if you like, the dollar," he added.
 Oil rallied to over $133 a barrel on Friday on a weaker dollar and on nagging concerns about stagnating output in Russia and other producers outside OPEC. [O/R].
 However, U.S. crude futures CLc1 trimmed gains to end up $1.38 at $132.19 a barrel.
 The euro slipped to $1.5752 EUR= from around $1.5765 but it was still up 0.2 percent from late Thursday.
 In theory, expensive oil lifts gold's appeal as a hedge against inflation.
 "Resistance is still around the $935-$940 area, so unless we see a retest of that region soon, we may just head down towards the $900-$905 supports," said Adrian Koh, an analyst at Philip Futures in Singapore.
 "I think physical buying will probably come around the supports of $900-$905 levels. But if they think prices will go up much more, then I think now is a good time."
  U.S. gold futures for June delivery GCM8 on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange settled up $7.50 at $925.80 an ounce.
 In other precious metals, platinum ended unchanged in spite of its early strength after falling from a two-month high the previous day as speculators booked profits. Spot platinum XPT= was essentially flat at $2,156.50/2,176.50.
 "Certainly the fundamentals remain very bullish. Fresh highs above $2,300 are quite easily on the cards, either in the next few weeks and certainly the later part of the year," said James Moore, an analyst at TheBullionDesk.com.
  Refiner Johnson Matthey (JMAT.L) said this week platinum could spike to a record high of $2,500 in 2008 due to production shortfalls and strong demand, and supplies would likely struggle disruptions main producer South Africa.
 Platinum struck a record of $2,290 an ounce on March 4 due to power shortage in South Africa which disrupted mining.
 On Thursday, state-owned power utility Eskom warned that the risk of emergency power cuts had increased significantly due to technical problems. [ID:nL22155251]
 Spot silver XAG= rose as high as $18.26 an ounce, its highest level since April 18, to track gains in gold. The metal was last quoted at $18.18/18.26, compared with $17.92/17.98, the late quote of Thursday.
 Spot palladium XPD= was weaker at $446/454 an ounce from its Thursday close of $448/456 an ounce.  (Editing by Christian Wiessner)   

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