PRECIOUS-Gold ends near flat, capped by US budget talks progress
* Signs of progress in US budget talks pressure safe havens
* Monday's talk between Boehner, Obama seen as step forward
* Silver breaks below 100 DMA for first time since August
* Platinum group metals ignore US copper ETF approval news
* Coming up: U.S. current account Tuesday
(Adds market details, updates prices) NEW YORK, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Spot gold prices ended little changed o n M onday as pressure from signs of positive developments in U.S. negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" neutralized safe-haven bidding in the precious metal. Earlier in the session, bullion climbed on hopes that the Bank of Japan would use more monetary stimulus after Japan's next prime minister, Shinzo Abe, called for the aggressive measure to boost growth. But gold fell back after the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner and President Barack Obama held another meeting on Monday to avert the potentially recessionary spending cuts and tax increases that will automatically take effect in January. Many see Boehner's weekend proposal which included tax increase as a potential breakthrough in the talks.
The metal had fallen for a third straight week last week. Gold, a traditional inflation hedge, has been under pressure as many economists expect the $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts could send the U.S. economy back into a recession. "Should we get a sell-off, we suspect gold will be caught up in the resulting downdraft. We remain cautious on the markets short-term," said Edward Meir, precious metals analyst at brokerage INTL FCStone. Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,696.04 an ounce by 2:56 p.m. EST (1956 GMT), having traded in a relatively narrow $13 range. U.S. COMEX gold futures for February delivery settled up $1.20 at $1,698.20, with trading volume on track to finish more than 50 percent below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed. Last week, gold briefly rose to a two-week high above $1,720 an ounce after the U.S. Federal Reserve pledged to buy $45 billion a month in longer-term Treasuries, a potentially inflationary move that was expected to underscore gold's reputation as a good inflation hedge. It swiftly retraced those gains, however, in line with other financial markets. Some investors took profits in gold, which is up 8.5 percent year to date, as trading desks prepared to close the book for year-end. Meanwhile, silver briefly drifted below a 100-day moving average of $32.14 an ounce, a level it had held since mid-August. It was up a penny for the day at $32.16, off a one-month low hit earlier in the session.
U.S. BUDGET TALKS STILL IN FOCUS Tom Kendall, head of precious metals research at Credit Suisse, said gold was getting little support from speculation over the fiscal cliff at present. A new proposal for tax increase on incomes over $1 million a year from Boehner on Sunday was seen as a step forward with only 14 days left before the automatic fiscal tightening takes effect, analysts said. Palladium was down 0.6 percent to $696, while platinum was down 0.6 percent at $1,605 an ounce.
2:56 PM EST LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold FEB 1698.20 1.20 0.1 1687.50 1701.00 84,087 US Silver MAR 32.28 -0.019 -0.1 32.080 32.485 26,171 US Plat JAN 1608.50 -6.00 -0.4 1604.00 1621.00 6,889 US Pall MAR 698.30 -3.75 -0.5 695.05 705.20 2,188Gold 1696.04 0.95 0.1 1686.54 1699.51 Silver 32.160 0.010 0.0 32.050 32.400 Platinum 1605.00 -9.00 -0.6 1606.50 1618.00 Palladium 696.00 -4.00 -0.6 696.00 702.00TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 89,566 191,379 173,331 12.93 0.19 US Silver 27,948 61,747 52,524 21 -1.80 US Platinum 8,869 9,673 8,967 17.48 -0.24 US Palladium 2,223 6,217 4,778
(Additional reporting by David Brough in London and Rujun Shen in Singapore; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)