PRECIOUS-Gold rebounds on crude oil gains, short-covering
* Partially recovers previous day's loss after Bernanke remarks
* U.S. weekly jobless claims fall sharply, factory activity up
* SPDR Gold Trust holdings down, investment demand weak
* Coming up: U.S. CFTC Commitments of Traders Friday
(New updates throughout, adds comment, second byline, dateline) NEW YORK/LONDON, July 18 (Reuters) - Gold rose on Thursday, as gains in crude oil prices and short-covering triggered a rebound rally from the previous day's losses after the Federal Reserve chief said the U.S. central bank still expects to start scaling back its monetary stimulus later this year. Investors focused on bullion's inflation-hedge appeal as U.S. crude oil rose to a 16-month high on encouraging U.S. job market and manufacturing data, partially recovering from gold's 1.3 percent drop on Wednesday. In his second day of congressional testimony, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke affirmed that the Fed would likely reduce its program of buying $85 billion of bonds a month later in 2013 and halt it altogether by mid-2014, and he left open the option of changing stimulus exit plans if the economic outlook grew worse. "A sustained positive move in gold likely requires a significant deterioration in U.S. economic prospects, which may steady the Fed's hand from removal of monetary accommodation," said Robert Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. Otherwise, gold is likely to fall as continued liquidation India, Haworth said. Spot gold rose 0.8 percent to $1,285.21 by 2:24 p.m. EDT (1824 GMT). U.S. gold futures for August delivery settled up $6.70 to $1,284.20 an ounce, with trading volume about 30 percent below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed. Gold held gains after government data showed U.S. jobless claims fell and factory activity picked up in the Mid-Atlantic region. The data could reinforce the view that the Fed will start winding down its massive stimulus program as early as September. Bullion has slipped more than 20 percent this year, losing its safe-haven appeal after the Fed earlier this year signalled it would look to rein in its monetary stimulus.
SPDR HOLDINGS FALL As a gauge of investor sentiment, holdings of the world's largest gold-backed ETF SPDR Gold Trust fell 1.5 tonnes to 937.57 tonnes on Wednesday. The fund has seen outflows of around 370 tonnes, or about $17 billion at current prices, so far this year. Gold's recent weakness has attracted buying in the physical sector, but demand from top consumer India has been muted after the government raised its import duty and stopped consignment imports, cutting imports by 81 percent in June. Silver rose 0.9 percent to $19.43 an ounce. Among platinum group metals (PGMs), platinum gained 0.5 percent to $1,411.59 an ounce, while palladium rose 1.4 percent to $742.97 an ounce. Investors now digest news General Motors Co is preparing to put its full-size pickup trucks on a severe diet to meet future U.S. fuel economy standards and stay competitive with rivals. Lighter trucks with lower fuel consumption are likely to require less PGMs as autocatalyst.
2:24 PM EDT LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold AUG 1284.20 6.70 0.5 1273.30 1287.90 113,213 US Silver SEP 19.389 -0.031 -0.2 19.215 19.570 35,884 US Plat OCT 1414.80 3.80 0.3 1406.10 1419.90 4,718 US Pall SEP 747.50 12.05 1.6 726.60 751.60 3,713 Gold 1285.21 9.82 0.8 1274.78 1288.09 Silver 19.430 0.180 0.9 19.280 19.560 Platinum 1411.59 6.59 0.5 1408.00 1416.25 Palladium 742.97 9.97 1.4 730.25 748.00 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 135,904 194,362 179,327 22.28 -0.90 US Silver 39,878 65,308 56,395 31.46 1.50 US Platinum 4,789 15,758 13,075 26 -0.47 US Palladium 3,773 4,307 5,464
(Additional reporting by Lewa Pardomuan in Singapore; editing