December 9, 2011 / 7:36 AM / 9 years ago

Gold rises; posts weekly loss on uncertain Europe

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gold rose on Friday following the previous day’s tumble, swept higher in an equities rally as EU leaders agreed to push for a deeper economic integration and as U.S. consumer sentiment hit a six-month high.

Gold and silver bars are pictured at the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna August 26, 2011. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

The precious metal, however, notched its third weekly loss in the past four weeks, hurt by technical selling earlier this week as investors remained doubtful that the European Union would resolve the crippling debt crisis in the long term.

Bullion followed the S&P 500 .SPX higher after the EU secured an historic agreement to draft a new treaty to form a closer fiscal union in the euro zone, but Britain was left isolated as Europe's third-largest economy refused to join the other 26 countries.

“There is a greater correlation toward the end of the year as most commodities, including gold, are headline correlated. As investors begin to trade into the new year, gold will climb higher with possible inflation growing,” said Carlos Perez-Santalla, precious metals broker at PVM futures.

Spot gold rose 0.3 percent to $1,712.39 an ounce by 1:56 p.m. EST.

Spot silver climbed 1.7 percent to $32.16 an ounce.

Bullion posted a weekly decline of 2 percent. On Thursday, it tumbled after the European Central Bank dashed hopes of more-dramatic action to fight the euro zone debt crisis.

The 25-day correlation-log between gold and the S&P 500 hovered near a one-year high of positive 0.7, suggesting the metal - a traditional safe haven - tends to move in tandem with risk assets.

U.S. gold futures for February delivery settled up $3.40 at $1,716.80 an ounce, with volume about 60 percent below its 30-day norm, as some traders expecting a disappointing December already closed their books.

“The markets are digesting the European news, which has so far been inconclusive. Gold investors are going to be deferring making major decisions...until after the new year,” said George Nickas, a commodities trader with broker INTL FCStone.

Veteran trader Dennis Gartman, who has long been bullish on gold priced in non-U.S. currencies, said in a note he would exit his gold position entirely should bullion in euro terms fall below 1,275 euros an ounce. He also made several tactical changes on gold this year.

On Friday, euro-priced gold traded at 1,280 euros after touching a session low of 1,278.05 euros.

TECHNICAL PRESSURE

On the charts, analysts said the next technical support level will be its 200-day moving average at $1,615 an ounce, after it breached its 50-day moving average at just above $1,700 an ounce earlier in the session.

"Gold again pulled back from its downtrend line from this year's highs. We feel as if another test of the major uptrend line, if not even the 200-day moving average may come next," said Rick Bensignor, chief market strategist of Merlin Securities. (Graphic: r.reuters.com/qah55s )

Wall Street jumped 1.5 percent after U.S. consumer sentiment rose to its highest in six months in early December while the trade deficit narrowed in October, pointing to gathering momentum in the economy.

James Steel, chief commodity analyst at HSBC, said the metal is also weighed down by gold lending by European banks in return for U.S. dollars, while demand for gold leases was at their lowest levels since 1998.

“Until funding difficulties at European banks are resolved, it is difficult for us to see any near-term halt in gold lending. This may help keep gold prices on the defensive,” Steel said.

Among platinum group metals, palladium was up 1.6 percent at $681.75, posting its second week of sharp gains. Platinum rose 1.3 percent to $1,509.99 an ounce.

Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper in London and Rujun Shen in Singapore; editing by Marguerita Choy

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