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Gold drifts lower on Europe concerns, buoyant shares

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Gold edged lower on Tuesday, weighed down by a stronger US dollar on the back of concerns about political uncertainty in Europe, while a buoyant stock market also drained enthusiasm for bullion.

[NEW YORK] Gold edged lower on Tuesday, weighed down by a stronger US dollar on the back of concerns about political uncertainty in Europe, while a buoyant stock market also drained enthusiasm for bullion.

Palladium, meanwhile, recorded its third record high so far in January, boosted by increased demand from the automotive industry.

Spot gold was down 0.6 per cent at US$1,312.58 per ounce by 1.36pm EST (1836 GMT). Prices last week touched their highest since Sept 15 at US$1,325.86.

US gold futures for February delivery settled down US$6.70, or 0.5 per cent, at US$1,313.70 per ounce.

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Palladium was trading up 0.1 per cent at US$1,101.55 an ounce after touching a fresh record high of US$1,111.40.

The dollar was up 0.2 per cent against a basket of major currencies on Tuesday, making commodities priced in the greenback more expensive for buyers using other currencies. It hit a more than one-week high on Monday.

"The dollar has bounced back, partly due to weakness in the euro," said Jonathan Butler, commodities analyst at Mitsubishi in London.

"There's also the continuing rally in the equity markets. All of that has probably helped take the wind out of gold's sails."

The euro is being weighted down on concerns about upcoming Italian elections, problems forming a German government and lingering Brexit concerns, he added.

Gold is also seeing profit-taking from its recent rally, traders said.

Global gold-backed, exchange-traded funds added 197.5 tonnes in 2017, an 8.4 per cent increase, the World Gold Council said.

"The gold price was clearly finding support from inflows ... into gold ETFs, meaning that inflows since the start of the year have totaled almost six tonnes," Commerzbank said in a research note.

But gold may edge lower soon, according to traders.

"If it goes below the US$1,240 level, then you'll see a lot of sell stops ... That'll be the first sign of the trend starting to change," said Michael Matousek, head trader at US Global Investors in San Antonio, Texas.

Though US auto sales figures for December were in line with expectations, palladium extended its 2018 rally.

"There are still strong fundamentals coming from the automotive industry, which uses catalytic converters in vehicles to fight pollution," said Phillip Streible, senior commodities strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago.

"But there's a potential for profit-taking. Over the long run, we might see more demand for electric vehicles." he added.

Among other precious metals, spot silver fell 0.93 per cent at US$16.98 an ounce.

Platinum dropped 0.9 per cent at US$963.74 an ounce after hitting a 3-1/2-month peak on Monday at US$973.60.

REUTERS