PRECIOUS-Gold falls to $1,700/oz as Fed offers few surprises
* Fed renews pledge to keep stimulus until job market improves
* Deflation worries pressuring gold despite Fed's bond-buying
* Gold erases early gains on Chinese data
* Coming up: US durable goods, weekly jobless claims Thursday
(Updates throughout after Fed statement, new comment) NEW YORK, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Gold fell on Wednesday to just above $1,700 an ounce, after the U.S. Federal Reserve stuck to its plan to keep stimulating growth until the job market improves but made few surprises in its policy statement. The Fed also repeated its vow to keep rates near zero until mid-2015 and its pledge to keep supporting growth while the recovery strengthens. It also made no change to its plan announced in September to buy $40 billion in mortgage-backed debt per month to put interest rates down. The metal, which briefly dropped below $1,700 an ounce earlier in the session, has been pressured by worries about a U.S. economic slowdown which also slammed equities and commodities this week. Bullion, a traditional inflation hedge, has lost 1.5 percent since Monday. ``Gold is starting to adjust to the reality that there will be deflation forces continue to assert themselves in the weeks and months ahead,'' said James Dailey, a portfolio manager at TEAM Financial Asset Management, which has $215 million in assets. Even though the Fed's latest round of mortgage-bond buyback should underpin gold prices in the long term, the U.S. central bank cannot eliminate the risks for a global deflation, Dailey said. Spot gold was down 0.3 percent at $1,703.20 an ounce which marked the weakest price since Sept. 7. U.S. COMEX gold futures for December delivery settled down $7.80 an ounce to $1,701.60, with trading volume at 20 percent below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed. Earlier Wednesday, bullion rose after a Chinese survey of purchasing managers pointed to a modest recovery in October.
Silver climbed 0.4 percent at $31.78 an ounce. Gold and other precious metals have come under heavy pressure this week from worries about economic slowdown after a raft of disappointing U.S. corporate earnings statements.
FEW SURPRISES The central bank's policy statement differed little from its announcement last month in which it launched its latest bond-buying program. ``The committee remains concerned that, without sufficient policy accommodation, economic growth might not be strong enough to generate sustained improvement in labor market conditions,'' the Fed said in a statement after a two-day meeting. Gold hit a 2012 high on Oct. 5 at $1,795.69 on market optimism after the Fed in September unveiled a third round of mortgage-bond buybacks to stimulate economic growth. Some analysts said that the initial optimism on Fed stimulus has started to fade. Bullion also appeared to have lost momentum after repeatedly failing to break the psychologically important $1,800 an ounce level. Among platinum group metals, platinum slipped 0.7 percent to $1,556.99 an ounce, while palladium edged up 0.3 percent to $592.75 an ounce. Platinum hit a seven-week low and it has dropped 6.5 percent in the last five sessions. Worries over global economic slowdown and easing supply fears in top producer South Africa triggered heavy liquidation, traders said.
3:40 PM EDT LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold DEC 1701.60 -7.80 -0.5 1698.70 1715.20 125,490 US Silver DEC 31.62 -0.173 -0.5 31.535 32.055 36,406 US Plat JAN 1562.70 -12.90 -0.8 1553.50 1586.10 9,058 US Pall DEC 592.75 -1.10 -0.2 587.65 602.90 4,094
Gold 1703.20 -4.89 -0.3 1699.40 1714.06 Silver 31.780 0.120 0.4 31.560 32.020 Platinum 1556.99 -11.50 -0.7 1556.50 1578.50 Palladium 592.75 1.55 0.3 590.27 601.00
TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 132,036 162,485 173,663 15.49 0.34 US Silver 40,336 47,867 56,250 25 -10.00 US Platinum 9,246 14,619 9,790 22.09 -0.18 US Palladium 4,217 3,851 4,796
(Additional reporting by