PRECIOUS-Gold inches up as Fed officials downplay stimulus wind-down
SINGAPORE, June 25 (Reuters) - Gold edged higher on Tuesday as the dollar weakened after two top Federal Reserve officials downplayed an imminent end to monetary stimulus. Bullion is still down more tha 7 percent since the start of last week due to worries over an early end to the Fed's $85 billion monthly bond purchases and a cash crunch in China.
* Spot gold rose 0.2 percent to $1,283.55 an ounce by 0018 GMT. It fell around 1 percent on Monday, extending last week's 7 percent slide as fears of a cash crunch in China spooked investors, and a slide in U.S. equities prompted bullion selling to cover margin calls.
* Comex gold rose $6 to $1,283.10.
* Last Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave his most explicit signal yet that the U.S. central bank was considering scaling back its $85 billion per month of Treasuries and mortgage-backed debt purchases.
* On Monday, Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota said investors were wrong to view the central bank as having become more keen to tighten policy than it was before last week's policy meeting.
* Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said even if the bank dialled back stimulus this year, it will still be running an accommodative policy.
* Fears of a credit crunch in China's banking system eased on Monday as short-term interest rates fell. The central bank said there were sufficient funds in the market but banks needed to improve cash management and control lending.
*India's biggest jewellers' association has asked its members to stop selling gold bars and coins, about 35 percent of their business, adding to government efforts to cut gold imports and stem a swelling current account deficit.
* HSBC lowered its 2013 gold price forecast to $1,396 from $1,542 an ounce and its 2014 price to $1,435 from $1,600, mainly on the Fed's plans to reduce economic stimulus and weak Chinese growth prospects.
* SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.43 percent to 985.73 tonnes on Monday -- its lowest in over four years.
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* The dollar index retreated from a near three-week peak of 82.841 after comments from two top Fed officials.
DATA/EVENTS (GMT) 1145 U.S. ICSC chain stores 1300 U.S. CaseShiller 1400 U.S. New home sales 1400 U.S. New home sales-units 1400 U.S. Consumer confidence
Precious metals prices 0018 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume Spot Gold 1283.55 2.26 +0.18 -23.35 Spot Silver 19.67 0.02 +0.10 -35.04 Spot Platinum 1334.74 6.24 +0.47 -13.05 Spot Palladium 659.22 0.22 +0.03 -4.74 COMEX GOLD AUG3 1283.10 6.00 +0.47 -23.43 3454 COMEX SILVER JUL3 19.64 0.15 +0.75 -35.19 1208 Euro/Dollar 1.3128 Dollar/Yen 97.74
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Richard Pullin)