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Gold Slips but China Buying Helps Curb Losses

Gold moved lower on Monday, with volumes easing as U.S. markets closed for the Presidents' Day holiday, while a lower euro and flat European shares also hurt investor interest.

Physical buying from Asia, where Chinese participants returned to the market from a one-week holiday, helped prices recover from Friday's six-month low.

(Read More: Central Banks Bought Most Gold in Nearly 50 Years)

Gold slipped 0.1 percent to $1,607.06 on Monday after falling as low as $1,598.04 on Friday, its weakest since August. Friday's loss marked bullion's biggest one-day drop since December.

The metal's inability to break above $1,700 eroded investor sentimentin recent weeks. This led to Friday's sell-off, when successive falls through key support levels set a new lower technical range between $1,550 and $1,625, making the metal vulnerable to further losses in the short term, traders said.

"There is no much happening this afternoon because of the holiday in the United States, but it looks like gold wants to test more downside than upside on lack of investor buying in the near term, even as we saw a bounce back above $1,600," Deutsche Bank precious metal trader Michael Blumenroth said.

Gold holdings in exchange-traded funds (ETFs)dropped, while speculative financial investors slashed their net long positions in futures and options by 16,676 lots to a lowest since December 2008 at 70,250 in the week to Feb. 12.

(Read More: Whither Gold? Bears Circle as Rally Hits Speed Bump)

Euro weakness against the dollar added some pressure on gold after comments by ECB President Mario Draghi that the currency's appreciation marked a downside risk to inflation.

Gold is usually seen as an hedge against inflationary pressures.

Market players were now awaiting the FOMC minutes on Wednesday for more clues about the Federal Reserve's future plans on their accomodative measures.

"The market is now also on hold ahead of the Fed's minutes, as people are longing for some more information on the central bank's stance on quantitative easing," Blumenroth said.

Platinum group metals (PGMs) edged higher after news that at least 13 workers were injured during clashes at an Anglo American Platinum mine in South Africa.

Spot platinum rose 0.7 percent to $1,689.49 an ounce, recovering from a two-week low of $1,668 hit on Friday. Palladium gained 0.8 percent to $759.47 an ounce.

Platinum managed to regain its traditional premium over gold for the first time in almost one year last month after Amplats said it planned to mothball two South African mines, sell another and cut 14,000 jobs.

Spot silver rose 0.4 percent to $29.89 an ounce, having fallen to a six-week low of $29.65 on Friday.

Silver net long positions on Comex fell by 28.7 million ounces to 242.5 million ounces in the week to Feb. 12, according to the latest Commitment of Traders data.

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