* China's first bond default, weak exports stir fears
* U.S. gold futures volume set for biggest since late Jan.
* Ukraine tensions underpin gold demand
* Coming up: U.S. import, export prices, jobless claims Thurs
(Adds comment, second byline, dateline, updates market activities) NEW YORK/LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - Gold surged 1.3 percent on Wednesday, hitting a near six-month high as fears of more corporate defaults in China and the geopolitical tug-of-war between Russia, Ukraine and the West boosted bullion's appeal as an insurance against riskier assets. China's first bond default and weak data on exports have stoked concerns about the health of the world's second-biggest economy, sending London copper prices to their lowest in 44 months. Copper is often put up as collateral for lending. Fears that China's economy, the world's second largest after the United States, is slowing triggered gold buying and dampened demand for riskier assets such as equities. "For these last sessions, we have had a very definitive China-led safe-haven bid," said Frank McGhee, head precious metals dealer at Chicago commodities brokerage Alliance Financial LLC. "Gold benefits from China's bond default and the industrial metals are getting whacked on the anticipation that China is slowing much quicker than people thought," he said. Spot gold gained 1.3 percent to $1,367.04 an ounce by 1:59 p.m. EDT (1759 GMT), having reached $1,370.60, the loftiest since Sept. 20. U.S. COMEX gold futures for April delivery settled up $23.80 at $1,370.50 an ounce. Trading volume was about 250,000 lots, 65 percent above its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed. Wednesday's turnover is set to be its highest since Jan. 29. Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are also weighing on appetite for risk globally on a growing chance of western sanctions over Crimea. The Group of Seven advanced economies will demand that Russia halt efforts to annex Ukraine's Crimea region in a statement to be issued on Wednesday. The market is awaiting the Federal Reserve's policy meeting on March 18-19. The U.S. central bank is most likely to announce another $10 billion cut to its monthly bond-buying stimulus, even after a series of U.S. economic data showing that growth has been hurt by harsh winter weather. In a sign of investor confidence in bullion, gold-backed exchange-traded products saw inflows of $500 million in February, a reversal from 13 consecutive months of outflows, according to BlackRock. In other precious metals, silver gained 2.1 percent to $21.25 an ounce. Platinum was up 0.8 percent at $1,469 an ounce, while palladium rose 0.8 percent to $771.10 an ounce.
1:59 PM EST LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold APR 1370.50 23.80 1.8 1345.60 1371.30 203,583 US Silver MAY 21.358 0.543 2.6 20.820 21.435 54,872 US Plat APR 1476.30 11.70 0.8 1458.30 1481.80 10,622 US Pall JUN 777.15 6.65 0.9 762.10 779.15 5,061 Gold 1367.04 17.70 1.3 1345.70 1370.60 Silver 21.250 0.430 2.1 20.820 21.390 Platinum 1469.00 11.20 0.8 1458.50 1478.50 Palladium 771.10 6.40 0.8 763.00 777.00 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 247,768 151,487 183,730 16.97 0.54 US Silver 61,741 76,123 57,921 25.23 0.01 US Platinum 12,668 12,342 13,087 18.24 0.50 US Palladium 5,074 8,251 5,658 20.04 -3.08
(Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by Louise Heavens, David Evans and James Dalgleish)