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Gold rises, platinum holds near two-month high

August 21, 2012


Gold bullions — File Photo
Gold bullion — File Photo

LONDON: Gold prices rose on Monday as the dollar hit its lowest in nearly two weeks against the euro and stock markets rallied, while platinum held near two-month highs as unrest simmered at a mine in major producer South Africa.

Platinum has been the biggest climber of the last seven days, up more than $100 an ounce week-on-week on Tuesday, after police shot dead 34 people after an outbreak of inter-union violence at a mine operated by Lonmin.

Gold prices climbed, meanwhile, in line with European shares and the euro, on optimism that meetings on Greece's future and a strategy being drawn up by the European Central Bank will lead to progress in solving the euro zone debt crisis.

Spot gold was up 0.3 per cent at $1,623.86 an ounce at 0948 GMT, while US gold futures for December delivery were up $3.40 at $1,626.40. It is approaching key resistance at $1,630 an ounce, which has held it in check since early June.

“Gold has got a good gentle uplift at the moment, with the backdraft of positive news on the euro,” Sharps Pixley Chief Executive Ross Norman said.

“We're seeing a nice gentle pick up in volumes across Europe on the physical side, (but) we've got all the heavy lifting to do between $1,630 and $1,640.”

“There's quite a lot of overhead resistance on the charts, so once we've got a convincing breach of that we need to see a bit more volume as well. Over the summer, it's been particularly light. The market just seems to be drifting higher.”

Greece's prime minister will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker this week to try and secure more funding from the European Union, International Monetary Fund and ECB.

German government bonds fell on Tuesday as markets focused on the prospect of ECB buying debt to contain Spanish borrowing costs.

Traders cited a story in British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, which said it could confirm earlier reports in German media that ECB experts were examining plans to effectively cap Spanish and Italian bond yields.   Platinum steadies off high

Platinum steadied after touching its highest in two months on Monday at $1,492.99 an ounce, to trade little changed at $1,486 an ounce.

Its recent rise has made it this year's best performing precious metal, up 6.6 per cent since end December.

London-based Lonmin, the world's third-largest platinum producer, on Monday extended its ultimatum for striking workers to return to duty to Tuesday morning, but workers continued to trickle in as the deadline expired.

The company said that 30 per cent of the 28,000-strong workforce reported for work on Monday, with some shafts reporting a 60 per cent attendance. It conceded that sacking 3,000 striking workers at its Marikana mine near Johannesburg, South Africa, could lead to more violence.

“We still suspect that platinum will likely have a hard time pushing past the $1,500 mark, especially if there is a marked easing of tensions,” INTL FCStone said in a note.

“More importantly, prices could be vulnerable once an announcement is made that units are starting to flow out.”

“We should find out more over the next twenty four hours, but we suspect that the easy money has been made on the long side, especially now that technically as well, our charts are showing the complex at the top end of the trading range.”

Spot palladium, which rode platinum's coat-tails to its highest since late June on Tuesday at $608.50, was down 0.1 per cent at $603 an ounce.

Chinese platinum imports nearly doubled year on year in July, data from the customs authority showed on Tuesday.

Palladium imports fell 14 per cent year on year, however, while silver imports fell 4 per cent, the 22nd straight month of declines.

Silver was up 0.6 per cent at $28.93 an ounce.