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Gold eases as dollar steadies; silver gathers pace

Apr 13, 2011

April 12 - Gold fell for a second day on Tuesday, under pressure from a steadier dollar after having hit record highs on Monday, while a warning from Japan about the severity of its nuclear crisis fed modest safe-haven demand.

Goldman Sachs' decision on Monday to book profits on its positions in crude oil, copper, platinum and some agricultural commodities weighed on the raw materials sector, including gold.

The correlations between gold and the dollar index .DXY and gold and the Standard & Poor's 500 index reached their most negative in nearly three months, meaning any rise in the U.S. currency will weigh more heavily on the gold price.

Federal Reserve officials, Janet Yellen and William Dudley, said the central bank should stick to its super-easy monetary policy, with inflation not a threat and unemployment too high.

Spot gold XAU= was last down 0.3 percent at $1,462.60 an ounce by 0907 GMT, having fallen earlier by as much as 0.9 percent to a session low at $1,453.31. On Monday, gold hit a record $1,476.21.

U.S. gold futures for June GCM1 fell 0.3 percent to $1,464.50.

Adding to potential support for gold was Japan's decision to raise the severity of its nuclear disaster to the highest level.

"When we look at gold, we see its correlation to the S&P 500 is quite strong and the VIX is off its March highs, so it's not so much a safe-haven play as it is a pure dollar play," said VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov.

"If this was safe-haven buying, you wouldn't see silver so much stronger than gold, this just shows the spec money is going into silver," he said, adding the crisis in Japan would likely maintain a bid for gold, which boasted strong support at $1,450.

The gold/silver ratio fell to its lowest since at least 1989 on Tuesday, reflecting silver's outperformance relative to gold.


Goldman Sachs' decision on Monday to close its long positions in copper, crude, platinum and some agricultural commodities initially rattled some of the positive sentiment towards these more growth-linked assets.

The bank, which is one of the largest players in the commodity markets, maintained its recommendation to hold long positions in U.S. December 2011 gold futures GCZ1, based on its view U.S. rates will remain low for an extended period.

Goldman noted "nascent signs of oil demand destruction in the United States" that could drag prices down, as well as the possibility of a Libya ceasefire. Nigeria's elections, which had added further risk to oil markets, had thus far not caused supply disruptions, it added.

The threat to global inflation from higher energy prices has been one of the driving forces behind the rise in gold, which can help investors hedge against higher price pressures.

The International Monetary Fund on Monday said soaring oil prices and inflation in emerging economies pose new risks to global recovery but are not yet strong enough to derail it.

"Gold should remain in demand as a safe haven in any case and the price should be well supported. Speculators and jewellery traders are likely to see lower prices as an attractive buying opportunity," said Commerzbank.

Holding of gold in the SPDR Gold Trust, the largest gold exchange-traded fund, were unchanged for a third trading day on Tuesday, leaving global holdings of metal at 64.322 million ounces, up 1.55 million ounces so far this week and up 2.5 percent so far this month.

Silver rose by nearly 1 percent to $40.56 an ounce, having fallen on Monday by over 1.6 percent after the Goldman note prompted a sell-off in industrial metals. Silver is more than 4 percent below Monday's 31-year high at $41.93.

Platinum was up 0.4 percent at $1,789.00 an ounce, partially paring some of Monday's 1.7 percent loss, while palladium was up 0.4 percent at $784.00.

By Amanda Cooper
Additional reporting by Lewa Pardomuan in Singapore; editing by Alison Birrane)

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