Gold up at 6-month high as Ukraine, China prompt safe-haven bids

By A. Ananthalakshmi

SINGAPORE, March 13 (Reuters) - Gold extended gains to a

third session on Thursday, scaling fresh six-month highs as

investors sought to hedge their bets against geopolitical

tensions in Ukraine and economic slowdown fears in China.

Gold is seen as a safe-haven asset during times of economic

and political uncertainty, when the metal is preferred by

investors over riskier assets such as equities. It has gained 14

percent so far this year on the global uncertainties.

A recent bond default in China and a weak exports report

sent equities and base metals lower. More data on Thursday

showed China's economy slowed markedly in the first two months

of the year, with growth in investment, retail sales and factory

output all falling to multi-year lows.

Spot gold rose 0.4 percent to $1,371.76 an ounce by

0737 GMT, after jumping 1.3 percent on Wednesday. The metal

earlier on Thursday hit $1,374.85, its highest since Sept. 10.

Technical buying has also been supportive of price momentum

in the last two sessions, especially after prices cleared a

recent high near $1,355 an ounce.

"Given bullion's technical break, it may be at risk of

profit-taking in the near term, barring an escalation of Eastern

European tensions," HSBC analysts said in a note.

"Geopolitical events can have a pronounced, but sometimes

short-lived impact on gold."

Reuters technicals analyst Wang Tao said spot gold faces

resistance at $1,375-$1,377, a break above which will open the

way towards $1,433.31, the Aug. 28 high.

The biggest factor driving gold prices at the moment is the

stand-off between the West and Russia over Ukraine.

The EU agreed on a framework on Wednesday for its first

sanctions on Russia since the Cold War, a stronger response to

the Ukraine crisis than many expected and a mark of solidarity

with Washington in the drive to make Moscow pay for seizing


New money has been flowing into gold-backed exchange traded

funds in recent weeks, in a sign of investor confidence, after

record outflows last year.

However, holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's

largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 1.50 tonnes to

811.20 tonnes on Wednesday - the first decline since Feb. 19.

Physical demand has been subdued due to the price rally,

with prices in China - the biggest bullion consumer - trading at

a discount to spot prices.


Metal Last Change Pct chg

Spot gold 1371.76 5.18 0.38

Spot silver 21.31 0.07 0.33

Spot platinum 1467.75 1.95 0.13

Spot palladium 771.8 2.4 0.31

Comex gold 1372.5 2 0.15

Comex silver 21.345 -0.013 -0.06

Euro 1.3944

DXY 79.393

COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most

active months

(Editing by Michael Perry and Muralikumar Anantharaman)