Wires

PRECIOUS-Gold inches down on profit taking, slowdown fears support metal

Diptendu Lahiri

(Adds analyst comments, details; updates prices)

Oct 2 (Reuters) - Gold prices inched down on Wednesday as investors booked profits after the metal rose as much as 1% in the previous session, though dismal U.S. manufacturing data kept a floor under the prices.

Spot gold was down 0.1% at $1,476.80 per ounce, as of 0423 GMT. Prices hit a near two-month low of $1,458.50 on Tuesday, before climbing as much as 1% during the session.

U.S. gold futures fell 0.4% to $1,482.80 per ounce.

Gold prices were affected (positively) last night by the manufacturing numbers, prompting some investors to book profits this morning, said Phillip Futures analyst Benjamin Lu.

But considering the risks to the global economy, gold is still a strong safe-haven asset, he added.

U.S. manufacturing activity tumbled to a more than 10-year low in September as lingering trade tensions weighed on exports, fanning fears of a sharp economic slowdown and raising expectations of further interest rate cuts.

The data also prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to lash out at the Federal Reserve, saying the central bank has kept interest rates "too high" and that a strong dollar is hurting U.S. factories.

The weak readings knocked the dollar index off a more than two-year peak, with the greenback little changed on Wednesday.

In the euro zone, manufacturing activity contracted at its sharpest contraction in almost seven years in September.

However, analysts said that there was little upside to prices in the near term as investors had priced in most of the developments.

"Gold might slide down to $1,455 levels in the short term as the market has nothing to reprice, until and unless the Fed cuts interest rates," Lu added.

Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion and also weigh on U.S. yields and the dollar, in which gold is priced.

"Amid mixed signals coming out of the lingering trade dispute between the U.S. and China, volatility is likely to remain high in the precious metal," said Sugandha Sachdeva, vice-president, metals, energy and currency research at Religare Broking Ltd.

On the technical front, spot gold may consolidate in a narrow range of $1,462-$1,488 per ounce, or bounce towards $1,514, as its short downtrend from the Sept. 4 high of $1,557 could have temporarily ended, according to Reuters analyst Wang Tao.

Among other precious metals, Silver fell 0.1% to $17.21 per ounce, platinum was down 0.4% at $872.54 per ounce and palladium edged down 0.5% to $1,643.94 per ounce (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)