Gold prices rose back above $1,565 an ounce on Friday, snapping four sessions of losses and temporarily decoupling from the euro, as investors saw the precious metal's current price as a buying opportunity after its recent fall.
Spot gold was up 0.5 percent at $1,565.61 an ounce at 15:38 SA time, having fallen towards $1,530 earlier this week as worries that Greece could be set to exit the euro zone hurt the euro and boosted interest in the dollar as a haven from risk.
It remains on track for a 1.9 percent loss this week.
“The $1,540 level held intact yet again earlier this week, and even though there is no overwhelming physical support, or indeed investor interest, these levels are starting to look attractive, with some modest buying on the lows,” VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov said.
The euro surrendered early gains to hit another 22-month low on Friday after Spain's wealthiest autonomous region, Catalonia, pleaded for help to refinance its debt. Worries over the euro zone's financial health have plagued the single currency this year.
Concerns about Greece leaving the euro zone prompted macro funds, real money and institutional investors to ramp up selling of the currency this week after an inconclusive election left the country at risk of bankruptcy.
European shares slipped, meanwhile, as worries about a possible Greek exit spooked investors.
Such fears were instrumental in sending gold to a record high last year, but since January it has tended to react negatively to bad news from the euro zone, as investors turn to the dollar, Treasuries and German bunds as alternative havens.
Precious metals dealers are awaiting US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data due later in the day for clues on investors' interest after net “long” managed money in US gold - which reflects bullish bets on bullion - fell by $2.2 billion to $12.2 billion for the week ended May 15.
PHYSICAL GOLD BUYING MUTED
Physical gold buying interest in main gold consumer India remained light on Friday, while gold bar premiums in Hong Kong and Singapore were steady from last week as market participants wait for progress in the euro zone's struggle.
But premiums of gold bars in Tokyo rose to as much as $1.50 an ounce above London prices on Friday, the highest level since last March, as investors turned from sellers to buyers during a recent price downturn, dealers said.
CME Group Inc, the world's largest commodities exchange, on Thursday cut margins for trading gold and some other contracts, with effect from the close of business on May 29. Margins for trading gold have been lowered by about 21 percent this year.
“Margin reductions tend to have a less immediate impact on prices than margin hikes,” ANZ Bank said in a note. “Nevertheless, the reduction is likely to be mildly supportive going forward.”
Among other precious metals, silver was up 0.1 percent at $28.38 an ounce. Spot platinum was up 0.7 percent at $1,422.74 an ounce, while spot palladium was up 0.9 percent at $588.22 an ounce.
Platinum has underperformed gold recently, with the gold/platinum ratio - which measures the number of platinum ounces needed to buy an ounce of gold - rising to its highest since the end of January at 1.1.
“Longer term, the fundamental outlook for both metals should improve significantly, with palladium still looking like a tighter market relative to platinum,” Credit Suisse said in a note on Friday.
“But a substantial restructuring of the South African production scene in reaction to wafer thin or negative margins is unlikely to emerge before Q4 at the earliest, and neither metal can defy the gravitational pull of the European political and economic disarray or slowing growth in US and Chinese vehicle sales.” - Reuters