SINGAPORE: Gold regained some strength on Thursday as recent losses started to ignite buying interest from jewellers in Asia after the Lunar New Year break, but firmer equities could limit gains.
This week's meeting of the Group of 20 developed and emerging market economies will be in focus for clues about global growth and also their views on currencies, which could set the tone for gold and other precious metals.
Gold had added $1.58 an ounce to $1,643.94 by 0308 GMT, having fallen below $1,650 on Wednesday after data showed disappointingly small growth in US retail sales and the S&P 500 index briefly hit its highest intraday level since November 2007.
"There's a little bit of buying from the jewellery side - it's from Hong Kong. I think you can say it's a scale-down buying," said Ronald Leung, director of Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong, adding that premiums for gold bars to spot London prices ranged from $1 to $1.50.
Markets in China remain shut for the Lunar New Year holiday, but Hong Kong resumed trading on Thursday.
A weak Japanese yen and hopes of rising demand from auto makers in China lifted PGMs futures on Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM), with the most active palladium contract extending gains to its highest since mid-2001.
The yen held near multi-year lows against the dollar and euro, while shares steadied ahead of the G20 meeting, where exchange rates will to be a hot topic, and any dollar strength may weigh on demand for commodities denominated in the US currency.
"Asian physical markets are still quiet due to holidays, with buyers easing back pricing expectations and also holding out for a break below $1,640 an ounce," ANZ said in a report.
"Market uncertainty around conflicting statements ahead of the G7 meetings this weekend, will likely weigh on gold prices until final announcements are made."
Currencies have been volatile after a Group of Seven statement earlier this week on exchange rates, designed to calm talk of a currency war, instead triggered fresh concerns.
US gold for April delivery was little changed at $1,644.50 an ounce.
The physical market was subdued in Singapore after seeing buying interest from Indonesia and Thailand earlier this week, keeping premiums steady at $1.20 to the spot London prices.
"I think gold has to break $1,639 or even lower before we can see bargain hunters coming in," said a dealer in Singapore. "Nowadays the current ranges are no surprise to hunters."
SPDR Gold Trust GLD, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.07 percent to 1325.99 tonnes on Wednesday from 1326.89 tonnes on Tuesday.