Spot gold was down 0.7 per cent at $1,608.29 an ounce, having earlier hit a high at $1,625.21. Last week, the metal rose 1 per cent. - File photo


NEW YORK: Gold fell on Monday as lingering uncertainty about whether central banks will take further steps to boost their economies prompted investors to take profits after the previous week's gain.

The metal, a traditional inflation hedge, fell after data showed Japan's economy expanded just 0.3 per cent in April-June, half the pace expected, raising doubts about the strength of a global economic recovery. Weaker US equities and losses in commodities led by grains also dragged bullion lower.

Gold prices have been held in a trading range in the last three months due to a murky outlook over whether central banks will take further monetary stimulus to reinvigorate economic growth.

However, most Wall Street economists still expect the US Federal Reserve to do more to stimulate growth this year, with the majority looking for action as soon as September, with some expecting Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to provide hints on possible easing at a central bankers' meeting to be held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Aug. 31.

“Everybody seems to be waiting for this huge money printing that they think is going to happen which hasn't happened yet. So, nobody really wants to bet against it, but at the same time they don't want to go long,” said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at Channel Capital Research.

Spot gold was down 0.7 per cent at $1,608.29 an ounce, having earlier hit a high at $1,625.21. Last week, the metal rose 1 per cent.

US gold futures for December delivery settled down $10.20 an ounce at $1,612.60, with trading volume looked set to finish below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.

Among other metals, silver fell 1 per cent to $27.80 an ounce. Platinum was down 0.7 per cent at $1,383.49 an ounce, while palladium fell 1.3 per cent to $570.10 an ounce.

Platinum's unusual discount to gold hovered at nearly $230 an ounce on Monday, near a record level reached in the previous session. Platinum, which is much more rare than gold and mostly used as an autocatalyst, has traditionally traded well above gold prices.

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