August 7, 2012 / 1:15 AM / 7 years ago

Gold flat, volume low; investors wonder about central banks

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gold was nearly flat on Tuesday, with volume much lighter than average for a second consecutive day as investors were uncertain about whether central banks would act to stimulate sputtering economies.

Gold bars are displayed at a gold jewellery shop in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh May 8, 2012. REUTERS/Ajay Verma

The metal traded in a tight range of less than $10 an ounce, swinging between slight gains and losses, as higher U.S. equities, crude oil and the euro failed to attract much buying or selling of the precious metal.

Volume in U.S. gold futures hovered near a fresh 2012 low. Traders said last week’s mixed U.S. nonfarm payrolls report fed uncertainty about whether the Federal Reserve will come through with more gold-friendly monetary stimulus, or whether the central bank would refrain from action, which could spur selling.

“Nobody really wants to step in front of the market and be a seller yet as the Fed seemingly just kicks the QE can down the road,” David Meger, director of metals trading at futures brokerage Vision Financial Markets.

“We still haven’t received the positive news that everybody believed we would see at some point down the road. That’s why we are in this no man’s land,” he said.

Bullion largely ignored comments from Boston Fed Bank President Eric Rosengren that the Fed should launch another bond buying program of whatever size and duration is necessary to get the economy back on its feet.

Spot gold inched down 15 cents at $1,610.24 an ounce by 2:46 p.m. EDT (1846 GMT).

U.S. COMEX gold futures for December delivery settled down $3.40 an ounce at $1,612.80, with volume at below 80,000 lots, about half of its 30-day average at about 170,000 lots, preliminary Reuters showed.

Trading interest has been muted this week. On Monday, U.S. gold futures’ volume fell to a 2012 low at 86,532 lots, CME data showed.

Gold bulls hope the Fed will launch a third round of quantitative easing, or QE, in which the central bank prints money to buy U.S. government debt to lower interest rates and boost the economy. This could pressure the dollar and stoke inflation fears, which generally encourages gold buying.

Last week, gold prices fell on disappointment that the Fed did not give any clear clues on the timing of QE and that European Central Bank President Mario Draghi did not unveil another round of bond-buying in the euro zone.

INDIAN DEMAND SOFT

Gold demand in major consumer India was sluggish ahead of a period of Hindu festivals and its wedding season, traditionally a major gold-buying event which begins this month and runs through until November, dealers said.

Holdings of gold exchange-traded funds climbed on Monday, with Reuters data covering a range of products showing inflows of 6.9 metric tons. <GOL/ETF> That was their biggest one-day inflow in ounce terms since March 1, with the bulk of new flows seen into Europe-based gold ETF products.

Among other precious metals, silver gained 0.9 percent to $28.12 an ounce. Spot platinum rose 0.7 percent at $1,405.74 an ounce and spot palladium was up 1.6 percent at $584.25 an ounce. 2:46 PM EDT LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT

Addtional reporting by Jan Harvey in London; Editing by David Gregorio and Marguerita Choy

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