Platinum, palladium prices off multi-month highs, gold listless
Spot palladium rose for four straight weeks and peaked at a 17-month high of $759.75 an ounce on Monday, before dropping 1.4 percent to $744.47 by 0356 GMT, headed for its biggest daily decline in nearly a month.
An improving global economic outlook has helped platinum and palladium outperform gold and silver so far this year, as demand prospects brightened for these metals, which are mainly used in industrial production and jewellery.
"The market is probably disappointed from lack of follow-through after we hit new highs yesterday," said a Singapore-based trader, adding that overall sentiment remained bullish in platinum and palladium.
The speculative net longs in U.S. palladium futures and options spiked nearly 19 percent on the week to 22,532 lots in the week to Jan 29, up 23 percent so far this year, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed.
Net longs in platinum rose 7 percent on the week to 40,938 contracts, up 46 percent so far this year, CFTC data also said.
Spot platinum edged down 0.4 percent to $1,686.49, off a four-month high of $1,705.25 hit in the previous session.
Helping platinum's sentiment, Anglo American Platinum , the world's largest platinum producer, said it made its first annual loss last year and warned of growing labour unrest as it cuts back operations in an attempt to restore profit.
Gold has been trapped in a range roughly between $1,660 and $1,680 an ounce since late last week, as investors await a fresh catalyst to trigger a more decisive move as momentum appears to be running out after a 12-year rally in prices.
Physical buying interest stalled in Asia as rangebound prices sapped trading interest, and China's market is winding down ahead of a week-long Lunar New Year holiday that kicks off on Saturday.
"There was some physical buying interest around $1,660, but not much at this level," said Ronald Leung, a dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.
"People are mostly waiting for more data from the United States to assess how the economy is and whether quantitative easing will continue."
Monetary stimulus was a key driver of gold's rally in the last few years, and an improving U.S. economy has prompted concern the Federal Reserve might curtail its bond-buying programme.
Spot gold traded little changed at $1,673.50 an ounce. U.S. gold edged down 0.1 percent to $1,674.50. Technical analysis suggested spot gold would remain neutral in a range between $1,657.54 and $1,681.70 during the day, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.
The dollar index rose to a one-week high, as a rally in the euro currency stalled on growing worries about political uncertainty in Spain and Italy.
A stronger greenback weighs on commodities priced in dollars.
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