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Gold Up to 10-Day High on Weak Dollar, Physical Buying

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Gold surged more than 2 percent to end at $1,462 on Thursday, boosted by a combination of options-related buying, rising geopolitical tensions and strong physical demand after its selloff.

The metal has now retraced around half of its losses after it fell a combined $225 over a two days earlier in April.

Buyers have been scooping up gold at lower prices, reflected by the U.S. Mint's suspension to sell its smaller American Eagle gold coins after soaring demand depleted inventory.

"Today's rally can mostly be attributed to options-related activities, and we continue to have strong physical demand, but I don't think it's enough at the end of the day to hold the market up," said Frank McGhee, head precious metals trader at Integrated Brokerage Services LLC.

Trading was active for both buy and put options around the heavily positioned $1,450 strike price as participants looked to profit after the rout that sent gold to a two-year low last week. Comex May options are set to expire after markets close on Thursday.

Gold's gains were also fuelled by data from the International Monetary Fund showing Russia and other central banks bought gold in March, and by news that the United States believed with varying degrees of confidence that Syria's regime had used chemical weapons on a small scale.

Gold earlier rose as high as $1,457.40 an ounce, its highest since April 15. It was last at $1,466 an ounce, up 2.4 percent, and around 10 percent above a two-year low of $1,321.35 hit last week.

U.S. gold futures last rose $38.30 to settle at $1,462 an ounce, with trading volume on track to finish below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.

Rising premiums in Asian physical gold and strong sales at U.S. coin dealers suggested bargain hunters have stepped up following the gold market's swoon.

"There has been a massive surge in terms of physical interest in Asia — we had a record level of shipments to India last week, which was twice the level of the previous week," Standard Chartered analyst Daniel Smith said.

Silver rose 4.9 percent to $24 an ounce.

ETFs Sell; Central Banks Buy

Daily outflows from exchange-traded funds showed no sign of abating, suggesting that sagging investor confidence is unlikely to be restored any time soon after last week's sell-off.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
Volume
GOLD
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GOLD/USD
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SILV/USD
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SILVER
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PALL/USD
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PLAT/USD
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Holdings of the world's largest gold-backed ETF, SPDR Gold Trust, dropped a further 0.4 percent on Wednesday from Tuesday to their lowest since late 2009.

Russia and Turkey raised their gold reserves in March, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Wednesday, which was ahead of the spectacular plunge in prices this month that shocked ardent gold investors and bulls.

Gold came under pressure earlier this month after the ECB and IMF asked Cyprus to sell reserves to raise 400 million euros ($523 million) as part of a bailout deal, raising speculation other indebted euro zone countries could follow suit.

Among platinum group metals, platinum gained 2.8 percent at $1,466 an ounce and palladium was up 1.9 percent to $678 an ounce.