NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gold fell for a second session on Wednesday on renewed fears over Europe’s debt crisis and as speculation receded that more stimulus to boost a slowing U.S. economy were imminent.
The metal was under pressured after comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, cited in a media report, raised concerns about the future of the euro zone, and as the International Monetary Fund urged the European Central Bank to play a bigger role to fix the region’s crisis.
Bullion, a traditional inflation hedge, has also been more sensitive than equities and other commodities to expectations of U.S. monetary easing. In his second day of congressional testimony, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke again did not hint at new stimulus measures despite recent signs of a U.S. economic slowdown.
“While easing may be expected, investors are still saddled with the uncertainty of not knowing exactly when such an order will be given,” said Edward Meir, metals analyst at U.S. brokerage INTL FCStone.
Meir said he expected to see more near-term weakness in gold against a disappointing economic backdrop.
Spot gold was down 0.5 percent at $1,575.45 an ounce by 2:36 p.m. EDT (1836 GMT).
U.S. COMEX August gold futures for August delivery settled down $18.70 an ounce at $1,570.80, with trading volume at about 10 percent below its normal pace, preliminary Reuters data showed.
Hints fresh easing could be on the cards have sparked a number of gold rallies this year, but it has remained rangebound between $1,540-1,640 for the last six weeks, awaiting clarification about the Fed’s stance on a possible third round of assets buyback program commonly known as quantitative easing (QE3).
Dousing hopes of more U.S. easing was the Fed’s latest “Beige Book” summary of national activity pointing to modest recent U.S. growth. <ID:W1E8IB00A>
In addition, a report showing groundbreaking on new U.S. homes rose in June to its fastest pace in over three years also tamed speculation of QE3.
U.K. commodities broker Marex Spectron said in a note that the upside for gold remains limited on expectations that there is no further U.S. stimulus in the near term, which also explains a lack of interest in the precious metal.
Among other precious metals, silver edged down 0.5 percent at $27.16 an ounce. Spot platinum was down 0.8 percent at $1,401.55 an ounce, while spot palladium dropped 1.3 percent to $571.93 an ounce.
Additional reporting by Jan Harvey in London; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and M.D. Golan