PRECIOUS-Gold marks time ahead of Fed meet, stimulus eyed
* Fed policy meet begins later Tuesday
* Shanghai premiums fall to about $20/oz
* Physical demand slowing down - analysts
(Adds comments, updates prices) SINGAPORE, July 30 (Reuters) - Gold was little changed on Tuesday, hovering near a five-week high, as traders shied away from taking big bets ahead of a key Federal Reserve meeting beginning later in the day. The Fed starts its two-day policy meeting on Tuesday and is expected to release a statement on Wednesday afternoon. Markets are watching closely for clues on when the U.S. central bank will start dialling back its $85 billion monthly bond purchases.
"The (economic) numbers coming from the United States are pretty mixed. Chances are there won't be any major announcement," said Ng Cheng Thye, head of precious metals at Standard Bank in Singapore. The Fed has said that the bank would likely begin reducing its stimulus later in 2013 and halt it altogether by mid-2014. But it has left open the option of changing stimulus exit plans if the economic outlook worsens. Data on Monday showed that contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes fell in June, retreating from a more than six-year high, although the U.S. labour market has shown signs of strength in recent weeks. Spot gold edged up 0.05 percent to $1,327.71 an ounce profits after three weeks of gains. The metal has fallen 20 percent this year on fears of an end to easy central bank money and sharp outflows from gold-backed exchange traded funds, but prices have recovered from a three-year low hit in June. "Since the prices have come back $150 from their low, demand has slowed down. In fact we are seeing some small de-hoarding from the Far East; it's not a lot but they are definitely taking some profit at these price levels," said Standard Bank's Ng. Prices on the Shanghai Gold Exchange have fallen to about $20 an ounce over London spot prices from over $25 last week. "Physical market activity seems to have lightened off over the past week as the market has moved above $1,320," ANZ analysts wrote in a note. "Shanghai premiums yesterday were around $5 below the previous week, which suggests the market may find it tough to hold flat price rallies."
Precious metals prices 0324 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume Spot Gold 1327.71 0.72 +0.05 -20.71 Spot Silver 19.81 0.00 +0.00 -34.58 Spot Platinum 1436.74 -2.76 -0.19 -6.40 Spot Palladium 737.72 -4.28 -0.58 6.61 COMEX GOLD AUG3 1327.70 -0.70 -0.05 -20.77 1927 COMEX SILVER SEP3 19.82 -0.04 -0.22 -34.60 2074 Euro/Dollar 1.3252 Dollar/Yen 98.28
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Joseph Radford and Richard Pullin)