PRECIOUS-Gold gains 1 pct after sharp slide on U.S. GDP data
* Gold climbs as much as 1.6 percent
* Bullion down 26 percent for the year
* Asian shares gain, dollar falls
(Adds trader's quotes, updates prices) SINGAPORE, June 27 (Reuters) - Gold edged higher on Thursday after tumbling 12 percent over the past 8 sessions, as soft data on U.S. economic growth eased fears of a quick end to the Federal Reserve's monetary stimulus. Bullion was still not far off Wednesday's near three-year low, with its safe-haven appeal severely dented since Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke laid out a strategy last week to wind down the central bank's $85 billion monthly bond purchases over the next few months. "Investor sentiment is still quite sour right now," said a trader in Hong Kong. "There is a lot of speculative fervour around gold. For investors to come back in droves, we will need to see some consolidation in prices and a return to an upper trending market," the trader said. Spot gold rose 1 percent to $1,238.21 an ounce by 0312 GMT, after a 4 percent fall on Wednesday that took the metal to $1,221.80, its lowest since August 2010. Silver, which sank 5.5 percent in the previous session, gained about 2 percent. Comex gold rose about $8 to $1238.10, also near 3-year lows. Prices were boosted by data on Wednesday that showed U.S. gross domestic product expanded at a 1.8 percent annual rate in the first quarter, compared with the previously reported 2.4 percent pace, lending a cautionary note on economic recovery.
Gold and other commodities have benefitted significantly from cheap central bank money over the years. Any pause in U.S. economic recovery momentum would mean a delay in the Fed's rollback of monetary easing and a positive for bullion. Investors have pulled back from precious metals this year due to gains in stock markets and the U.S. dollar. Gold is down more than 26 percent for the year and is headed for its worst quarterly performance since at least 1968. ABN Amro was the latest to pare its gold price forecasts, lowering its 2013 year-end gold forecast to $1,100 an ounce from $1,300 and 2014 year-end price to $900 from $1,000, citing liquidation in funds. SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest exchange-traded gold fund, posted its second-biggest percentage drop in holdings this year on Tuesday to its lowest levels in more than four years. "There is no reason for investors to hold precious metals as the outlook for capital gains are dim and they pay no income," ABN Amro analyst Georgette Boele said in a note. Physical demand has also not picked up in top consumers India and China as much as it did in mid-April when prices fell the most in 30 years. India is reeling under the impact of new import curbs, while Chinese markets are being rocked by fears over a credit crunch.
Shanghai gold futures fell for the eighth straight day.
Precious metals prices 0312 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume Spot Gold 1238.21 12.97 +1.06 -26.06 Spot Silver 18.81 0.35 +1.90 -37.88 Spot Platinum 1315.75 14.25 +1.09 -14.28 Spot Palladium 638.97 9.47 +1.50 -7.66 COMEX GOLD AUG3 1238.10 8.30 +0.67 -26.12 20627 COMEX SILVER JUL3 18.77 0.18 +0.98 -38.07 Euro/Dollar 1.3032 Dollar/Yen 97.73
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
(Editing by Richard Pullin and Muralikumar Anantharaman)