Gold prices heads for 2nd weekly rise, PGMs off 17-month peak
Platinum and palladium, which have more industrial applications than gold, dropped from their strongest levels in more than a year.
Bargain hunting and firmer equities helped lift gold prices although thin trade ahead of the Lunar New Year exaggerated movements, with investors also factoring in China's better-than-expected trade data for January.
Gold hit a low of $1,667.64 an ounce before rebounding to $1,671.31, steady from the previous session. Gold, which is heading for its second straight weekly rise, ended up around 7 percent in 2012 - the 12th straight year of gains, making it one of the longest bull runs ever for a commodity.
"For gold, the technical picture comes into place. I think we are at a crossroad where the uptrend since May is actually meeting the downtrend from September-October," said Dominic Schnider, an analyst at UBS Wealth Management in Singapore.
"So from that angle, it's very important that we continue to see the uptrend being confirmed."
U.S. gold futures were also steady at $1,672.10 an ounce.
Platinum and palladium extended losses, having rallied to their highest level since September 2011 earlier this week on hopes of a better economic outlook.
The two metals, which are used in jewellery and auto catalysts, have gained, before the recent losses, on a more positive economic outlook and after mining disruptions in South Africa, as well as a drop in supply from Russia.
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