PRECIOUS-Platinum hits 3-mth high on Amplats; regains premium over gold
* Platinum rises to three-month high, regains premium over gold
* Tokyo gold hits record high for second session
* Spot gold neutral in $1,653-$1,678 range -technicals
* Coming Up: U.S. retail sales, Dec; 1330 GMT
(Adds details, comments; writes through; updates prices) SINGAPORE, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Platinum hit a three-month high on Tuesday, regaining its premium over gold for the first time since last March as supply concerns lifted prices, while gold struggled to break through a recent price range on the lack of a fresh catalyst. News that Anglo American Platinum, the world's top platinum producer, would indefinitely close four of its shafts in South Africa's platinum belt and sell its Union mine sent platinum up 2.1 percent to a three-month high of $1,691 an ounce. Platinum consequently regained its premium over gold, having gained favour with investors expecting higher prices for the metal, which is used mainly to produce jewellery and autocatalysts, against the backdrop of an improving global economy. Spot gold was poised to test the upside limit of a recent range between $1,653 and $1,678, although the strength could be short-lived, as gold investors gauge the possibility of withdrawal of monetary stimulus by key central banks, such as the Federal Reserve. Investors are also watching the bickering over raising the U.S. debt limit in Washington. A failure to raise the limit would see the United States default as early as mid-February.
"The gold market may go through a repeat of what we saw in December, namely, varying 'mood swings' that will result in directionless trading," Ed Meir, an analyst at INTL FCStone, said in a research note. "Silver will likely shadow gold quite closely, but palladium and platinum could decouple somewhat, as they seem to be more responsive to the fundamentals that, on balance, are quite supportive." Spot gold rose half a percent to $1,674.28 an ounce U.S. gold crawled up 0.3 percent to $1,674.40. Technical analysis suggested that spot gold remained neutral in the range of $1,653 to $1,678 an ounce during the day, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao. The dollar wallowed near a 1-1/2-week low against a basket of currencies, after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments suggested the central bank was not in a hurry to withdraw monetary stimulus. A weaker greenback supports dollar-denominated commodities
TOCOM GOLD HITS RECORD FOR SECOND DAY The benchmark gold contract on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange rose to a record high of 4,821 yen a gram as mounting pressure on the Bank of Japan to launch more monetary-easing measures kept the yen near a 2-1/2-year low against the dollar. The high yen-gold prices have teased out some selling from retail investors, but raised expectations that Japanese investors may again look at gold as an attractive buy if aggressive easing continues to weigh on the currency. "We started to see some selling at the end of last week, but it was not as much as the August to December period in 2011," said a Tokyo-based trader. Spot gold hit a record high of more than $1,920 an ounce in September 2011. "If Japan ever starts to worry about inflation, there may be a good chance that investors will buy gold again," the trader added.
Precious metals prices 0719 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume Spot Gold 1674.28 7.48 +0.45 -0.02 Spot Silver 31.14 0.13 +0.42 2.84 Spot Platinum 1685.11 30.86 +1.87 9.78 Spot Palladium 709.00 8.00 +1.14 2.46 COMEX GOLD FEB3 1674.40 5.00 +0.30 -0.08 19103 COMEX SILVER MAR3 31.18 0.07 +0.21 3.13 6784 Euro/Dollar 1.3342 Dollar/Yen 88.73
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)