PRECIOUS-Gold flat, volume light after last week's rally
* Gold, US markets flat after weak existing home sales
* US Comex futures volume set for lowest since April 1
* India physical demand weak, premiums at record high
* Coming up: US nonfarm payrolls Tuesday
(Adds details on volume, updates market activity) NEW YORK/LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Gold prices ended flat in extremely quiet trade on Monday, as investors stayed on the sidelines after last week's short-covering rally sparked by hopes the Federal Reserve would postpone its withdrawal of monetary stimulus. Gold prices tracked nearly flat U.S. equities and a steady dollar. Financial markets showed little reaction to a report showing weaker U.S. home resale and price growth in September.
Gold rose nearly 4 percent last week, the biggest weekly rise in two months, on expectations the Fed would have to maintain stimulus measures to support the economy after a two-week U.S. government shutdown. Tom Fitzpatrick, analyst at Citigroup's technical research unit CitiFX, said gold prices should rise with signs of a weaker U.S. dollar, stronger equities and lower U.S. Treasury yields. "The price action across markets is clearly starting to reflect the risk that the Fed is less likely to taper its asset purchases in the near term," Fitzpatrick said. U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled up $1.20 an ounce at $1,315.80. Comex gold futures trading volume was less than 75,000 lots as of 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT), preliminary Reuters data showed, on track to be the weakest turnover since April 1 and one of the lowest this year. Spot gold underperformed futures, edged down 0.1 percent at $1,314.89 an ounce, with prices having moved in a narrow $10 range. "Investment interest in gold is rather low. Everything we've seen has been more short-covering than anything else," Credit Suisse analyst Tobias Merath said. "People are also not properly incentivised to turn to gold with long-term buying intentions. As a gauge of investor interest, holdings of the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, the SPDR Gold Shares , held near 4-1/2-year lows on Monday, having posted a seventh consecutive weekly outflow last week. On Friday, gold rallied as investors holding short positions, or bearish bets, closed out those contracts by buying futures, analysts said.
GOLD IMPORTERS STRUGGLE IN INDIA Gold importers in India, the world's biggest physical buyer of the metal, struggled to get supplies on Monday, paying record premiums just ahead of the peak festival season next month. Indian sellers have struggled to source supplies for domestic use for almost three months, since the central bank introduced a rule that required 20 percent of all imports be re-exported. Demand tends to peak around the five-day Diwali festival of lights, which this year falls in the first week of November. Among other precious metals, silver outperformed, rising 1.5 percent to $22.21 an ounce. Platinum edged up 0.2 percent at $1,433.74 an ounce, while palladium was up 1.2 percent at $747 an ounce.
3:55 PM EDT LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold DEC 1315.80 1.20 0.1 1312.00 1323.90 69,566 US Silver DEC 22.278 0.365 1.7 21.850 22.335 27,905 US Plat JAN 1438.60 0.80 0.1 1431.30 1446.10 6,930 US Pall DEC 750.25 9.60 1.3 740.70 752.35 4,691 Gold 1314.89 -0.86 -0.1 1313.73 1323.81 Silver 22.210 0.330 1.5 21.880 22.300 Platinum 1433.74 2.64 0.2 1435.50 1441.24 Palladium 747.00 8.50 1.2 743.77 749.00 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 73,179 163,169 190,402 21.29 0.21 US Silver 30,508 45,026 56,348 31.22 -0.89 US Platinum 7,046 14,401 13,039 19.98 -2.21 US Palladium 4,770 3,807 5,705
(Editing by David Gregorio)