GO
Loading...

PRECIOUS-Gold edges up as dollar, shares struggle on Ukraine worries

* European shares, dollar slip over Ukraine tensions

* Coming Up: U.S. Markit Services PMI Final April; 1345 GMT

(Updates throughout, changes dateline from SINGAPORE)

LONDON, April 25 (Reuters) - Gold rose slightly on Friday, after hitting its weakest level in 2-1/2 months the day before, as violence in Ukraine weighed on equity markets and the dollar, but gains were capped by optimism about U.S. economic growth.

Ukrainian forces killed up to five pro-Moscow rebels on Thursday as they closed in on the separatists' military stronghold in the east, and Russia launched army drills near the border in response, raising fears its troops would invade.

Spot gold was up 0.3 percent at $1,298.00 at 1051 GMT. It hit a 2-1/2 month low of $1,268.24 on Thursday amid firmer equities and a weaker technical picture, before regaining strength due to renewed tensions between Moscow and Western powers over Ukraine.

U.S. gold futures for June delivery gained 0.5 percent to $1,297.60 an ounce.

The metal remains in a fragile situation as interest from long-term investors is still absent, analysts said.

"The fact that gold is unable to strongly benefit from safe-haven demand on Ukraine is in itself a bearish signal," Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch said.

The dollar fell 0.1 percent versus a basket of currencies, while European shares struggled due to the heightened tensions in Ukraine.

Gold tends to hold an inverse relation with equity markets, as investors seek refuge from riskier assets in times of political or financial troubles.

"Stock markets movements remain key over the next few weeks and also U.S. economic data and interest rates decision," Fritsch said.

Upbeat U.S. durable goods data for March on Thursday which suggested the world's biggest economy was regaining momentum limited gold's gains.

Investors were now eyeing next week's U.S. Federal Reserve Open Market Committee's meeting on interest rates for trading cues.

U.S. economic reports are closely monitored for clues on the pace of the Fed's tapering of its stimulus measures which were put in place during the financial crisis. The prospect of tapering was a key factor in gold's 28 percent drop last year.

PREMIUMS STEADY

Gold bar premiums were mostly unchanged in Asia this week, with a soft yuan curbing demand from top consumer China.

Premiums for gold bars in Hong Kong were quoted at 80 cents to $1 an ounce to the spot London prices, while in Singapore, a centre for bullion trading in Southeast Asia, the premiums were at $1 to $1.20 to the spot London prices - both mostly unchanged from a week ago.

"It seems that in general, premiums in Asia are about $1 to $1.20 nowadays. After last night's pulldown and then rebound, the market is quiet," said a physical dealer in Singapore. "It's possible that people are waiting for prices to stabilise."

Among other precious metals, silver was down 0.2 percent to $19.55 an ounce, having dropped to a near-five month low of $18.91 an ounce in the previous session.

Spot platinum rose 0.4 percent to $1,402.25 an ounce and spot palladium gained 1.6 percent at $797.50 an ounce.

South African producers Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum Holdings and Lonmin Plc said that no resolution had yet been achieved over a three-month strike relating to wages and benefits.

(Additional reporting by Lewa Pardomuan in; Singapore; Editing by Pravin Char)