Gold bars and granules. File photo: Reuters

London - Gold swung between gains and losses near a six-month low in London as investors weighed signs of improving economic growth against speculation that the biggest weekly drop since May will spur purchases.

Platinum gained on reports of a shooting at an Anglo American Platinum Ltd. mine.

The metal dropped 3.4 percent last week and holdings in gold-backed exchange-traded products fell the most since July in the period on growing confidence that the global economy is strengthening.

Billionaire investor George Soros cut his gold ETP holdings last quarter, government filings showed last week.

UBS AG said in a report today that its gold flows to India, the top buyer, were above average after the sell-off, and Morgan Stanley said it expects “bargain hunting” this week.

“In the face of increasingly positive economic data and good stock market yields, the zero returns of gold and silver are looking more and more unattractive,” David Govett, head of precious metals at Marex Spectron Group in London, wrote in a report today.

“Gold has been meandering aimlessly for a while now and needed a move one way or the other to wash out a lot of stale positions. We have seen the return of the Asian market and some physical buying, albeit light.”

Gold for immediate delivery was little changed at $1,611.67 an ounce by 1:49 p.m. in London.

Prices fell as much as 0.1 percent after rising 0.5 percent earlier today, and slid to $1,598.23 on February 15, the lowest since August 15.

Futures for April delivery were 0.1 percent higher at $1,611.30 on the Comex in New York.

US financial markets are shut today for the Presidents’ Day holiday. Futures trading volume was 10 percent lower than the average in the past 100 days for this time of day.

Volume for gold of 99.99 percent purity on the Shanghai Gold Exchange exceeded 22,000 kilograms (22 metric tons) today for the first time, according to data tracked by Bloomberg.

Markets in Asia were closed last week for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Gold Fixing

Bullion at the morning “fixing,” used by some mining companies to sell output, was at $1,611.25 in London, down from $1,612.25 in the afternoon of Feb. 15.

Holdings in gold ETPs fell 0.5 percent to 2,602.3 tons last week, and are now 1.1 percent below the December 20 record, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Soros reduced his investment in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest fund backed by the metal, by 55 percent as of December 31 from three months earlier.

Paulson & Co., the largest investor, kept its stake unchanged, a filing showed.

Silver for immediate delivery rose 0.6 percent to $29.9775 an ounce, after reaching a six-week low of $29.6912 on February 15.

Palladium added 0.4 percent to $761.80 an ounce. Platinum was up 0.7 percent at $1,693.65 an ounce, after rising as much as 1.1 percent to $1,698.75.

Anglo American Platinum, the biggest producer of the metal, is gathering details on reports of a shooting at a mine in South Africa, spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said in an e-mailed response to questions. - Bloomberg News