London - Gold steadied on Friday after three days of losses, but stayed on track for its biggest weekly decline in two months after upbeat US data and signs of softening demand in Asia pushed prices through key chart levels.

Spot gold was at $1,255.20 an ounce at 11:59 SA time, little changed from $1,255.60 late on Thursday, and not far from that day's near four-month low of $1,251.10.

US gold futures for June delivery were down $2.30 an ounce at $1,254.00.

Week on week, the metal is down 3 percent, the most in any week since late March.

The market has taken support in recent months from a tense stand-off between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

“The move into riskier assets like equities, which have performed well, is weighing on gold,” Peter Fertig, a consultant at Quantitative Commodity Research, said.

“Furthermore, the market is not as worried about Ukraine as it has been in March and April. That's reducing support from that side for gold.”

Expectations remain that stronger US economic data will support the Federal Reserve's policy of paring back its bullion-friendly stimulus measures, a major negative factor for gold, he said, despite Thursday's weak first-quarter growth data.

The S&P 500 index climbed to its third record closing high in four sessions on Thursday as traders shrugged off the report showing the economy shrank in the first quarter and bet on improvement in the second quarter.

“It was well known that yesterday's (weak) Q1 GDP figures for the United States were distored by the extremely severe winter,” he said.

“Underlying data indicates that there has been a catch-up in the current quarter.”

Global shares steadied on Friday after hitting record highs, with investors positioned cautiously on the last trading day of the month ahead of next week's European Central Bank policy meeting.

A softer tone to stocks has helped gold steady.



Gold premiums in India almost halved this week on hopes the new government would ease restrictions on imports of the precious metal, while demand in rest of Asia failed to pick up despite a drop in prices.

Premiums in top buyer China have been little changed this week.

Data earlier this week showed that imports from main conduit Hong Kong fell to a 14-month low in April as importing banks were adequately stocked amid softer demand and a weaker yuan currency.

“We are seeing weakness across Asia, in China, Thailand and other parts of southeast Asia,” said one dealer in Hong Kong.

“It's been very quiet because people bought a lot last year and they are holding back now. I don't think we will see any significant increase until the latter half of the year.”

Silver was up 0.2 percent at $19.00 an ounce, while spot platinum was up 0.3 percent at $1,457.25 an ounce.

Platinum prices, undisturbed by a South African mine strike now in its fifth month, could soon begin to rise as the metal stocks built up by producers in anticipation of the strike finally run low.

Spot palladium was up 0.1 percent at $832 an ounce.

Palladium has been the best performing precious metal this week, up 0.6 percent.

It hit its highest since August 2011 on Wednesday at $843 an ounce, reaching its most expensive compared to platinum since mid 2002. - Reuters