PRECIOUS-Gold jumps 3 pct; U.S. budget deal seen delaying stimulus change
* U.S. shutdown damage seen delaying Fed tapering
* Sharply higher volumes trade on COMEX gold in European hours
* Dollar under pressure from budget deal
* Traders await economic data, stimulus outlook
(Updates market activity, adds trader comment, second byline, dateline,) LONDON/NEW YORK, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Gold prices surged 3 percent on Thursday, boosted by a dollar slide and expectations that a temporary deal to avoid a U.S. debt default might prompt the Federal Reserve not to reduce its monetary stimulus. Congress on Wednesday approved an 11th-hour deal to end a partial government shutdown and pull the world's biggest economy back from the brink of debt default. "Now that we have reached an agreement on the debt ceiling, it's just a big unwind - people are flooding out of the dollar and covering all their shorts in gold," said Phillip Streible, senior commodities broker at brokerage RJ O'Brien. Yet, the news did not fully explain extremely busy trades earlier in the session. Two separate bursts of unusually heavy buy orders dramatically lifted the gold market by $40, or 3 percent, but they lasted just minutes. This marks the fifth time in less than two weeks the benchmark U.S. Comex gold futures contract for December delivery posted sudden, often unexplained, intraday sharp price swings. Spot gold rallied to a high of $1,324.06 per ounce early in the U.S. session. By 3:29 p.m. EDT (1929 GMT), it was up 3 percent at $1,319.24, up 2.7 percent. U.S. December Comex gold futures settled up $40.70 at $1,323, with trading volume about 30 percent above its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed. The dollar fell against the euro on Thursday to its lowest in more than eight months. The end of the U.S. debt stalemate shifted focus in the currency market to the economic cost of the government shutdown and whether the Fed stimulus will stay in place. For gold market participants the temporary budget deal was seen as a positive as it would keep the Fed from withdrawing monetary stimulus at least until the beginning of next year. "The U.S. debt deal is seen (as) positive for gold by market participants, for good reason, since the whole mess is just being postponed by 3-4 months, which makes a reduction of Fed asset purchases rather unlikely for the time being," Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch said. Gold hit a three-month low earlier this week as the U.S. shutdown failed to generate strong safe-haven bids. Traders said markets had not priced in a default as they always expected the United States to come up with a last-minute agreement. With prices showing little further weakness after a deal was struck on the debt ceiling, short positions, or commitments to sell, were squeezed, forcing prices higher. "There were probably lots of shorts in the market, hence the probe of the lows in the last week or so, and all of those guys have been wrong footed, and have had to cover," said Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar.
CFTC DATA DELAYED With the agreement in Washington, investors will turn their focus to key economic data - which had not been released due to the shutdown - to determine the impact of the impasse on the economy and the Fed's stimulus policy. However, the Commitments of Traders report, key data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, will not be published this week as scheduled, the U.S. regulator said. Investment interest in gold remained lacklustre. Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, on Wednesday fell 3.6 tonnes to a four-year low at 885.53 tonnes, 35 percent down from the December 2012 peak. Other precious metals also rose broadly, with silver up 2.2 percent to $21.80 per ounce, platinum up 3.2 percent to $1,432.74 and palladium rising 3.3 percent to $737.50 .
3:29 PM EDT LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold DEC 1323.00 40.70 3.2 1273.70 1324.20 198,629 US Silver DEC 21.947 0.582 2.7 21.100 22.200 54,759 US Plat JAN 1434.90 36.70 2.6 1393.20 1438.40 14,057 US Pall DEC 737.80 24.25 3.4 713.15 741.25 5,588 Gold 1319.24 38.25 3.0 1275.08 1324.06 Silver 21.800 0.460 2.2 21.110 22.160 Platinum 1432.74 44.84 3.2 1397.25 1433.74 Palladium 737.50 23.50 3.3 715.77 738.50 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 202,268 161,070 190,244 23.55 -0.95 US Silver 58,067 44,746 56,457 33.89 0.15 US Platinum 14,212 14,480 13,017 20.82 0.00 US Palladium 5,762 3,971 5,774
(Additional reporting by Jan Harvey and Freya Berry in London; editing by William Hardy, James Jukwey and Kenneth Barry)