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GOLD-barsLONDON: Gold pared some losses on Thursday as the euro edged up against the dollar and oil prices firmed but prices were still set for a daily decline as investors took their cue from currency markets.

Spot gold was bid at $1,494.69 an ounce at 1105 GMT, against $1,496.30 late in New York on Wednesday. US gold futures for June delivery fell $2.4 to $1,493.5.

An early bounce in the euro helped gold to a session high near $1,500, with investors wary towards the dollar after minutes of a Federal Reserve meeting in April did not indicate the Fed was ready to start tightening policy any time soon.

‘The resistance at $1,500-1,505 is getting increasingly formidable, and chances of gold breaking this in the near term seems to be grim,’ said Pradeep Unni, senior analyst at Richcomm Global Services.

‘Fed minutes revealed that the United States isn't anywhere near a rate hike, and thus currency directions will be key,’ he added. ‘Gains beyond $1,503 should be supported by a substantial drop in (dollar), which isn't shown yet.’

Other commodities such as crude oil and base metals rose from the day's lows as the dollar surrendered ground to the euro, although gains in the single European currency were tempered by concern about the euro zone debt crisis.

Gold tends to track crude prices, as the metal is often bought as part of a basket of commodities in which oil is the dominant part, and because it is sometimes seen as a hedge against oil-led inflation.

BAR, COIN DEMAND SOARS

Interest in gold investment products like bullion-backed exchange-traded funds remained soft, with holdings of the world's largest, New York's SPDR Gold Trust, declining by nearly 30,000 ounces on Wednesday.

The World Gold Council said in a report on Thursday that investors turned away from gold-backed exchange-traded funds in the first quarter in favour of coins and bars.

Gold coin and bar investment rose in most geographical areas in the first quarter, the WGC data showed, more than doubling in China to 90.9 tonnes, rising 54 percent in the United States to 22.5 tonnes and almost doubling in Europe to 78.1 tonnes.

‘It is very interesting that we continue to see a high level of enthusiasm from European investors,’ said the WGC's Research Manager Eily Ong. ‘We still see a very slow global economic recovery, and ongoing sovereign debt issue in the euro area.’

Holdings of the largest silver ETF, the iShares Silver Trust , also declined by 1.316 million ounces, the fund said on Wednesday. Its holdings rose strongly throughout last year, but silver's recent more than 30 percent price dive has been accompanied by outflows.

Silver was at $35.60 an ounce against $35.01. Among other precious metals, platinum was at $1,770.74 an ounce versus $1,763.40 and palladium at $730.95 versus $728.88.

Platinum and palladium have firmed this week during London's Platinum Week, as miners, recyclers, traders, analysts and end-users gathered here for the launch of a key industry report from Johnson Matthey and other events.

‘Major players gathering in London for (Platinum) week expressed cautious optimism for PGMs, even though most people we talked to do not see a spec drive similar to that at the start of the year, concentrating on the favourable fundamentals instead,’ said VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov.

‘We are also mildly bullish on PGMs, but we see many more uncertainties than at the start of the year amid a faltering economic recovery, expectations of monetary tightening in the US, ongoing tightening in China and concerns over automotive demand due to high fuel prices among other things.’

Copyright Reuters, 2011

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