PRECIOUS-Gold prices ease on ECB, Fed policy talk

Jan Harvey
Monday, 4 Nov 2013 | 5:40 AM ET

* All eyes on ECB meeting amid talk of policy loosening

* Speculation revives the Fed may curb stimulus this year

* Indian gold demand muted during key Diwali festival

LONDON, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Gold prices eased on Monday on talk that the European Central Bank may loosen monetary policy this week and as speculation revived that the U.S. Federal Reserve may scale back stimulus measures later this year.

The euro struggled near a six-week low as investors and speculators sold the single currency on mounting speculation that the ECB may loosen policy in the near term. That also helped lift European stocks.

Meanwhile, the dollar was supported in the wake of upbeat U.S. manufacturing data supported a view that the Fed might scale back its bond-buying in December, rather than March as many in the market have been expecting.

"The (U.S.) central bank is keeping markets guessing. Now December is back on the agenda," Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar said. "I think it's unlikely, but the Fed statement and thinking suggests they haven't completely ruled that one out. That's really impacting the market, as well as the turnaround in euro/dollar."

Bhar added, "The ECB meets this week, and they may well set the path for cutting rates in December. Those two factors have really capped gold and have put it into a bit of a bearish phase."

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,313.74 an ounce at 1020 GMT, after falling nearly 3 percent last week to their lowest in two weeks at $1,305.69.

Gold prices are down more than 20 percent this year, largely on the back of expectations that the Fed is set to scale back monetary stimulus.


Outflows from gold-backed ETFs resumed on Friday, with holdings of the largest, New York's SPDR Gold Shares, down 5.7 tonnes, their largest one-day outflow since Oct. 21.

Outflows from ETF holdings show that investors are willing to reduce their holdings in gold in favour of other asset classes, Gerry Schubert, head of commodities at Emirates NBD, said in a note over the weekend.

"The equity markets in the U.S. ... are marking one record high after another, and they seem to enjoy universal appreciation, much to the detriment of investment into gold," he said.

"This is still okay in the current low-interest-yielding environment, but it will become more and more difficult for gold to compete in a rising interest rate market, solely on the basis of price participation."

The sharp drop in prices last week has failed to revive physical demand, and some dealers say the price may have to fall below $1,300 to attract more buyers.

Indian demand was muted during the biggest gold-buying festivals of Dhanteras and Diwali, celebrated on Friday and over the weekend, with many opting for cheaper silver due to high gold premiums and the scarcity of the metal on the domestic market.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery edged up $1.00 an ounce to $1,314.20.

Among other precious metals, silver was down 0.5 percent at $21.69 an ounce, while spot platinum was up 0.1 percent at $1,444.99 an ounce and spot palladium was up 0.1 percent at $738.72 an ounce.