Gold Flat As Wall Street Rises, U.S. Industry Data Strong


Gold prices were little changed on Wednesday, as gains were limited by rising Wall Street stocks and strong U.S. industrial production data fed investor caution about bullion a day after prices fell nearly 2 percent.

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Gold traded around its key 200-day moving average support near $1,300 an ounce after a U.S. government report showed industrial production rose faster than expected in March.

Still, other U.S. data showed the housing market still dragging the U.S. economy. Groundbreaking for new homes increased in March, but remained well below the post-recession peak hit in November.

Any safe-haven bid for gold was muted by the absence of new violence reported between Ukraine government forces and pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine, traders said.

Analysts said bullish U.S. economic data has prompted speculators to sharply trim bearish bets, but gold remains vulnerable should investors close out more long positions.

"There is room for specs to cut back further, and with increasingly limited liquidity ahead of the holidays, it wouldn't take as much to get prices moving south," said UBS precious metals strategist Edel Tully.

The U.S. gold market will be shut on Friday for the Good Friday holiday.

Spot gold inched up 42 cents to $1,302.46 an ounce by 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT), following Tuesday's 1.8 percent drop on heavy technical selling after prices fell below the 200-day moving average.

U.S. COMEX gold futures for June delivery settled up $3.20 an ounce at $1,303.50, with trading volume about 35 percent below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.

The yellow metal largely ignored signs that U.S. economic activity picked up in recent weeks as a weather-related drag lifted, according to the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report of anecdotal information on nationwide business activity.

After reaching a peak of $1,330 an ounce on Monday, gold was hit by a wave of selling as worries over economic growth and demand from top consumer China pushed it through a series of key chart levels.

U.S. equities rose for a third straight session after China reported economic growth a touch above forecasts, a relief for stock market investors fearful of a much weaker outcome.

On the investment side, holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.60 tonne to 806.82 tonnes on Tuesday, in the second straight day of inflows after three weeks of outflows.

Among other precious metals, silver edged up 0.2 percent to $19.61 an ounce, having hit a 2-1/2-month low at $19.24 an ounce in the previous session.

Platinum climbed 0.1 percent to $1,435.80 an ounce, while palladium rose 1 percent to $799.25 an ounce.

(By Frank Tang and Jan Harvey; Additional reporting by Clara Denina in London; Editing by Jane Baird, Jason Neely, David Gregorio and Chizu Nomiyama)