NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Gold rose to a one-month high on Thursday, as comments by the president of the European Central Bank on cheap money stabilizing the region’s banking system extended the metal’s gain to a third consecutive day.
The euro rallied 1 percent after a solid sale of Spanish debt and comments by ECB President Mario Draghi about the bank’s cheap three-year loans was helping banks across the euro zone.
Still, the positive correlation between gold and the euro has shown signs of strain this month. In the previous two months, gold had traded in virtual lockstep with the euro.
Gold gained despite sharp declines in crude oil and grain prices. Gold has gained around 6 percent in 2012.
“Right now, gold is operating on its own merit as a store of value,” said Zachary Oxman, managing director of futures brokerage TrendMax.
“The problems in the euro zone are still there, and I believe the debt issues in Greece and Italy are not going to be alleviated at all,” Oxman said.
Spot gold was up 0.3 percent at $1,645.90 an ounce by 2:35 p.m. EST (1935 GMT), having touched a one-month high at $1,661.71.
U.S. gold futures for February delivery settled up $8.10 an ounce at $1,647.70. Trading volume was 10 percent above its 30-day average, consistent with recent stronger turnover after thin holiday trade.
The 25-day correlation-log between gold and euro fell to 0.56 from a one-year high of near 0.8 in late December, a sign that the positive link between two has been weakening fast.
“Some decoupling between gold and the euro could create more upside for gold. This may imply that gold prices might not be hostage to shifts in “risk-on, risk-off” investor sentiment, as has recently been the case,” said James Steel, chief commodities analyst at HSBC.
Demand for silver coins has been strong, with the U.S. Mint reporting American Eagle silver coin sales of 4.257 million ounces in January so far, already a higher volume than recorded in any of the previous three months.
U.S. Mint gold coin sales have also been healthy at 82,500 ounces so far this month, 26 percent higher than in the entire month of December.
Silver was up 0.3 percent for the day at $30.01 an ounce.
Spot platinum rose 0.2 percent to $1,492.06 an ounce, while spot palladium dropped 1.3 percent to $631.97 an ounce.
Platinum climbed for a fourth day on Thursday for its largest weekly gain since October with a rise of 7 percent.
Editing by David Gregorio