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Gold falls as euro drops, eyes resistance
By Frank Tang and Jan Harvey
reuters.com

(Reuters) - Gold prices eased on Monday, as a weaker euro and oil's retreat halted the metal's attempt to test technical resistance at above $1,800 an ounce following last week's sharp rally.

Bullion was pressured by lingering economic uncertainty after leading economies told Europe over the weekend it must put up extra money to fight its debt crisis if it wants more help from the rest of the world.

The metal briefly rose in a tight range after data showed euro-zone money supply grew 2.5 percent in January on an annual basis. The metal has risen 13 percent year-to-date on expectations that monetary policy will remain loose in key economies.

"The gold market may be straddled between tame physical demand on the one hand and strong currency and investor risk-related buying on the other," said James Steel, chief commodity analyst at HSBC.

"Ultimately a bull market needs both in order to sustain a long-term rally," Steel said.

Spot gold edged down 0.2 percent at $1,769.40 an ounce by 3:06 p.m. EST (2006 GMT). Bullion rose 3 percent last week for its largest weekly rise in four weeks.

U.S. gold futures for April delivery settled down $1.50 an ounce at $1,774.90, as trading volume was about 70 percent below its 30-day average.

The precious metal has struggled to hold above $1,780 an ounce, an area of strong technical resistance near the highs in early December. Gold retreated after briefly breaking above that level last week.

Adam Sarhan, CEO of Sarhan Financial, said a new and definitive longer-term technical buy signal will be triggered if gold breaks above $1,810 an ounce.

On Monday, it remained under some pressure from losses in other assets including the euro and crude oil, as investors worried about oil's rally this month would start to hurt global growth.

GOLD-EURO LINK UNCERTAIN

In recent months, better news on the euro zone debt crisis has benefited gold, as the metal tended to rise along with the euro on economic optimism.

However, analysts said the correlation between the two remains patchy.

UBS in a note that the easing of correlations between gold and the euro should help shield gold if a negative surprise emerges from the euro zone in the near term.

Gold's initial losses fueled a demand recovery in major consumer India, a price-sensitive market, on Monday, dealers said.

Among other precious metals, silver was up 0.2 percent at $35.42 an ounce. Spot platinum was down 0.3 percent at $1,703.24 an ounce, while spot palladium was down 0.9 percent at $703.50 an ounce.

South Africa's Impala Platinum (IMPJ.J) is to rehire thousands of miners sacked for an illegal strike that has halted production for more than a month at the world's biggest platinum mine, a leading union said on Saturday.

The strike fueled a near 5 percent rally in platinum prices last week, taking them to their highest since September at $1,731.50.


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