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Gold ticks up from 5-wk low as Greek debt drama unfolds

Thursday, February 12, 2015 - 11:58
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Spot gold fell to US$1,216.45 an ounce, its lowest since Jan 9, before recovering to trade up 0.1 per cent at US$1,220 by 0326 GMT.

[SINGAPORE] Gold edged higher on Thursday, after earlier dropping to a five-week low, as confusion over Greece's debt negotiations with its European lenders dominated markets, drumming up some safe-haven bids for the metal.

Spot gold fell to US$1,216.45 an ounce, its lowest since Jan 9, before recovering to trade up 0.1 per cent at US$1,220 by 0326 GMT.

The metal lost 1.2 per cent on Wednesday as the dollar hit a three-week peak against a basket of major currencies on weakness in the euro and the yen.

"We continue to see a conflicted gold market with the market split between bears and bulls as the US dollar strength improves against global economic issues and safe-haven demand,"said ANZ analyst Victor Thianpiriya.

Gold, seen as a safe-haven asset, tends to get a boost during times of economic and geopolitical uncertainty.

Financial markets are under pressure as euro zone finance ministers were unable to agree with Greece a final statement or a way to continue talks until their next meeting on Monday, following hours of discussions in Brussels to extend an international bailout.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis played down a failure to reach a common position with the rest of the euro zone and said he believed a "healing deal" on Greece's finances could be reached on Monday.

The uncertainty knocked down Asian stocks and the euro on Thursday as markets feared that Greece could exit the euro zone if it fails to reach a deal.

Gold's sell-off for much of this week despite the Greek issue suggests that markets are either expecting an ultimately positive result, or they may be discounting the country's possible exit as a net positive, said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.

"We also have to suspect that with a Federal Reserve rate increase in the offing and US equity markets looking much steadier, gold is finding it difficult to gain traction on the upside," Meir said.

The Fed should raise interest rates in June, a top Fed official said earlier this week, saying the US economy was strengthening and inflation would move back to the central bank's target.

Any hike by the Fed, which has kept rates near zero since 2008 to stimulate the US economy, could further strengthen the dollar and in turn hurt demand for bullion, a non-interest-bearing asset.

REUTERS