PRECIOUS-Gold hovers around $1,690/oz, facing chart resistance
* Euro surrenders gains vs dollar, stocks ease
* Strong resistance pegged at $1,695 an ounce
* Comex gold options expiry on Jan. 28 closely watched
(Adds comments; changes prices)
LONDON, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Gold held near $1,690 an ounce on Tuesday, kept in check by tough chart resistance, as stock markets steadied ahead of earnings reports from key tech companies and the euro surrendered gains against the dollar.
While the precious metal benefited in early trade from weakness in the U.S. unit versus the euro after a positive reading of German investor sentiment, it struggled to breach its 55-day moving average at $1,694 an ounce.
Spot gold was at $1,689.34 an ounce at 1538 GMT, little changed from $1,689.55 late on Monday, while U.S. gold futures for February delivery were up 0.2 percent to$1,689.80 an ounce.
"We are currently in a relatively tight range for gold, with the $1,695 level proving quite tough to breach, which means we may look for support in the $1,660 area once again," Ole Hansen, senior manager at Saxo Bank said.
Gold prices are little changed from the start of the year after posting their worst quarterly performance in more than four years in the last three months of 2012.
Gold stalled below $1,700 an ounce in early January and has struggled to break through resistance at $1,690-1,695 in the last four sessions, frustrating buyers.
Traders were watching option movements on the Comex platform ahead of the expiration of February contracts on January 28, with a strong rise in open interest recorded in call options at the $1,710 strike. Call options give holders the right, but not the obligation, to buy at a certain level.
"Options traders are now trying to put in their positions and if the prices run up to that level, there will probably be quite a lot of stop-buying," Fastmarkets' anlayst James Moore said.
In earlier trade the metal also took some support from the Bank of Japan's announcement that from 2014 it would adopt an open-ended commitment to buy assets.
"At the international level, it's another expansionary element to add to the U.S.' and EU's actions; not an earth-mover, I wouldn't have thought, though, as Japan's been flirting with deflation for ages," GFMS analyst Rhona O'Connell told the Reuters Global Gold Forum earlier.
"It may well sustain market uncertainty over currencies and possible inflation for longer than anyone had been expecting up to now," she said.
INDIA HIKES MORE IMPORTS DUTIES
On the physical side of the market, India more than doubled the import duty on gold dore bars and ores on Tuesday, hard on the heels of a hike in taxes on refined gold. Dore, an alloy of gold and silver used by refineries, accounts for about 100 tonnes or about 12 percent of India's annual imports.
The government is trying to dampen demand in the world's biggest bullion consumer, whose imports total around 800 tonnes a year, and rein in a record current account deficit. On Monday it lifted import duty on refined gold by two points to 6 percent.
A Reuters poll of 37 analysts showed gold could test record average highs of $1,775 and $1,780 in 2013 and 2014 respectively, but suggested its 12-year long bull run may be plateauing as gains shrink on expectations for monetary policy to stabilise in the United States and other key economies.
In other precious metals, silver is expected to recover to an average price of $32.85 an ounce in 2013 from last year's decline to $31.13, before picking up to $33.50 next year.
Analysts predicted an average palladium price of $745 an ounce for 2013, 16 percent above last year's average of $641 an ounce and an average $1,700 an ounce for platinum , up 10 percent from 2012's average $1,546.
Spot silver stood unchanged at the closing level of $31.99 an ounce. Spot platinum was up 0.6 percent at $1,683.99 an ounce, while spot palladium was up 0.6 percent at $718.72 an ounce.
The platinum group metals have eased after touching multi-month highs last week on the back of output cuts in South Africa and hopes for an improvement in demand.
Miners in the republic have struggled in recent years as lower platinum prices failed to keep pace with rising costs. Major producer Anglo American Platinum announced an operational overhaul last week that may cost 14,000 jobs and 400,000 ounces of lost production.
(Reporting by Jan Harvey and Clara Denina; editing by Keiron Henderson)