A Shiny Week for Gold

Reuters

Gold eased on Friday but was still on course for its biggest weekly rise in two months after the euro zone's last-minute deal on containing debt crisis buoyed commodities and equities in the previous session.

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Spot gold retreated from a one-month high of $1,751.99 to $1,735.49 an ounce by 1132 GMT, down 0.5 percent from the previous close, but still on course for a gain of around 6 percent from a week earlier, the biggest one-week rise in two months, according to Reuters graphics.

"We had a really heavy week on the news front with the euro zone and U.S. GDP...the market's trying to work out where gold should be, wondering if this euro zone package has solved the problem," Mitsubishi analyst Matthew Turner said.

"There's been some euphoria all week, but now some people are saying the details are a bit sketchy. The problem is noone's quite sure what this means for gold. If it is trading like a risk asset then it should go up if scepticism sets in about the euro zone rescue."

The precious metals rose on Thursday, boosted by gains in equities and commodities as the dollar dropped after a euro zone agreement to boost the region's bailout fund and slash Greece's debt.

Even as many investors returned to riskier assets, gold also benefited from some safe-haven flows by investors who remained wary about the euro zone agreement until more details emerge.

On Friday, the head of Europe's bailout fund said he does not expect to reach a conclusive deal with Chinese leaders during a visit to Beijing but expects the surplus-rich country to continue buying bonds issued by the fund.

U.S. gold lost around 0.5 percent to $1,737.30, also headed for its sharpest one-week gain in two months with a 6.3 percent rise.

The dollar index edged up after suffering its biggest one-day loss in more than two years, as the euro rally paused. A stronger dollar makes commodities priced in the greenback more expensive for holders of other currencies.

"It's (gold) underperforming ... right now, which is not surprising us at all ... although we wouldn't rule out further consolidation at the current level, we still firmly believe that the risks in the system longer term justify even higher prices," Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said.

ECONOMIC FUNDAMENTALS

The relief on Europe's problems, however temporary, will allow investors to shift their attention to other pressing concerns.

Many market watchers expect China's central bank to begin to loosen up its tight liquidity policy by the end of the year, as China's economic growth slows and hopes run high that inflation has peaked.

Holdings of the largest gold-backed exchange-traded-fund (ETF), New York's SPDR Gold Trust fell 0.05 percent from Wednesday to Thursday, while that of the largest silver-backed ETF, New York's iShares Silver Trust SLV, remained unchanged for the same period.

Recent data out of the United States showed that the world's biggest economy grew at its fastest pace in a year in the third quarter but consumer confidence in October dropped to a 2-1/2-year low.

With the U.S. economy seeming to have stepped back from the edge of the cliff, investors expect little policy shift out of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting on Nov. 1-2.

"Beyond the very near-term we think economic fundamentals will be watched more closely again. In this context, we still think that gold looks the strongest in the near term given low interest rates and improving technical momentum," Credit Suisse said in a research note.

"We have more concerns for silver, despite the fact that it was the big winner yesterday. In silver, overvaluation remains a major risk. Apart from that the market is also more vulnerable to renewed swings in risk appetite than gold."

Spot silver cut gains to $35.18 an ounce from $35.05 an ounce, on course for a weekly rise of around 13 percent -- its biggest in more than three years.

The gold-silver ratio, used to measure how many ounces of silver is needed to buy an ounce of gold, fell to a one-month low below 50, indicating the extent of gold's outperformance over silver.

Platinum was a nudge higher at $1,633.24 an ounce, having earlier hit a one-month high at $1,658 an ounce.

Palladium was down more than 1 percent at $652.72 an ounce.