Gold eased for a second day on Tuesday, tracking losses in stocks and other commodities as worries over the euro zone's handling of its debt crisis knocked the euro to a two-month low against the dollar.
Appetite for European assets wilted as a dispute between international lenders threatened to further delay an aid payment to Greece.
Gold, traditionally hurt by gains in the dollar that make it more expensive to buy in other currencies, was down 0.1 percent to $1,726.24 an ounce by 13:36 Sa time, while US gold futures for December were down $4.30 an ounce to $1,726.60.
The euro came under further pressure after a German survey of economic sentiment came in much worse than expected, suggesting worries over the wider euro zone were starting to affect the bloc's biggest economy.
Traders say the positive impact of Europe's debt crisis on the dollar has offset the impact of any new appetite for gold as a safe haven after a year which saw the metal fall prey to more speculative trends.
“There had been a decoupling in the relationship between gold and the dollar in terms of the daily trading range, and now we are seeing a readjustment,” said Bayram Dincer, analyst with LGT Capital Management.
In the longer term, traders said gold may benefit from uncertainty over the looming “fiscal cliff” in the United States which could see nearly $600 billion worth of spending cuts and tax increases at the end of this year push the US economy back into recession.
The precious metal hit a record $1,920.30 an ounce last September when negotiations between Democrats and Republicans over the raising of the US debt ceiling turned sour.
However, signs that negotiations may be more constructive this time around are starting to dampen some interest in one of the assets investors favour as a safe haven in difficult economic times. Gains earlier this month were largely made on the back of expectations that talks would be protracted and tense.
“Gold's rally may be starting to show signs of topping out, as investors seem to be discounting the possibility of a fiscal cliff deal being reached,” INTL FCStone said in a note.
“However, we still have a long way to go before all the sides agree, which means that we could see further gains in the precious metals space before a more concerted sell-off sets in, likely by early December.”
Delegates at this year's London Bullion Market Association conference in Hong Kong, who forecast gold prices would be around $1,843 an ounce at the time of next year's meeting, have adopted a softer tone towards gold than in previous years.
“This year I sensed that the bullishness has moderated and there is less conviction,” Tom Kendall, head of precious metals research at Credit Suisse, told Reuters at the event.
Growth in Chinese demand for gold, which had surged in the last five years to put China ahead of India as the world's largest consumer, has shown signs of cooling this year.
Gold demand in India has been forecast to fall up to 45 percent this year on the back of rupee weakness, high prices and a hike in import duties, but is set to recover in 2013, industry officials said at the meet.
Among other precious metals, silver was little changed at $32.42 an ounce. Spot platinum was up 1.2 percent at $1,579.25 an ounce, while palladium was up 1.3 percent at $612.97 an ounce.
Supply outages in South Africa are set to push the platinum market into deficit this year as shipments from the world's main producer of the metal fall by 605,000 ounces, refiner Johnson Matthey said on Tuesday.
Chinese platinum jewellery demand was forecast to jump in 2012 as Hong Kong retailers added outlets, while palladium jewellery demand was expected to fall by a fifth in China.
But pent-up demand for new vehicles and cheap car financing rates will likely result in increased use of palladium in North American autocatalyst production this year. - Reuters