PRECIOUS-Gold headed for 5th straight weekly fall on stimulus outlook
* Gold declines over 5 pct in as many weeks
* Investors still holding gold for portfolio insurance - ETF Securities
* Dollar gains on U.S. data, Asian shares steady
(Adds analysts' quotes, updates prices) SINGAPORE, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Gold was little changed on Friday on mixed U.S. economic data but the metal was headed for its fifth straight weekly drop, hit by persistent uncertainty over the U.S. Federal Reserve's stimulus outlook and weak demand. The Fed surprised markets earlier this month when it decided to stick with its massive stimulus measures but some officials have since said that the U.S. central bank could still begin tapering later this year. Bullion's fall over the last five weeks has been marginal except for the week before the Fed's policy meeting when prices fell nearly 5 percent. "Resolution of the fiscal budget impasse and debt ceiling, and economic indicators favouring non-tapering could lift prices of gold," said Joyce Liu, investment analyst at Phillip Futures. "The first two will spur safe-haven demand for gold and all three have to meet the mark before the Fed will be completely comfortable with tapering." U.S. House of Representatives Republicans on Thursday refused to give in to President Barack Obama's demand for straightforward bills to run the government beyond Sept. 30 and to increase borrowing authority to avoid a historic default.
The move does not bode well for prompt resolution of these fiscal battles that could lead to a government shutdown on Oct. 1 and a default in mid-October. Spot gold edged up 0.05 percent to $1,323.69 an ounce weeks. Investors also took in mixed economic data from Thursday. Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes fell for the third straight month in August but fewer Americans filed new claims for jobless benefits last week, giving conflicting signals on the health of the economy.
FUND FLOWS NEUTRAL Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, were unchanged on Thursday. The ETF saw huge outflows earlier this year on fears of stimulus tapering, but the flows have since slowed. "Clients are not looking to increase their gold holdings at the moment as they are going to more cyclical assets," said Danny Laidler, head of ETF Securities' Australia and New Zealand business. "Having said that, a lot of clients are still holding gold. The reason is that they feel the need for portfolio insurance and there is still a lot of concern about dollar debasement."
Precious metals prices 0347 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume Spot Gold 1323.69 0.60 +0.05 -20.95 Spot Silver 21.56 -0.11 -0.51 -28.80 Spot Platinum 1405.00 0.27 +0.02 -8.47 Spot Palladium 720.00 1.82 +0.25 4.05 COMEX GOLD DEC3 1324.60 0.50 +0.04 -20.96 11616 COMEX SILVER DEC3 21.62 -0.15 -0.67 -28.66 3930 Euro/Dollar 1.3481 Dollar/Yen 98.75
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
(Editing by Ed Davies and Muralikumar Anantharaman)