LONDON: Gold eased on Friday, adding to losses after a fall of as much as 2 percent the day before, after a rally in the dollar gathered pace as investors grew increasingly doubtful over Greece's ability to remain solvent.
Gold was still set for its largest weekly decline since the so-called commodities "flash crash" of early May, which saw the raw materials complex stage its biggest weekly fall on record.
The euro fell against the dollar after shares in some Italian banks were briefly suspended from trading and on continued wariness over the debt crisis, even after Greece agreed with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund on an austerity plan that would bring it one step closer to securing much-needed financial aid.
Spot gold fell 0.2 percent to $1,518.49 an ounce 1040 GMT, on course for a 1.4 percent fall this week. But while gold looked vulnerable according to the charts, analysts said the high level of uncertainty would stem any steeper sell-offs.
"Technically, it doesn't look ideal, but even if we breach $1510, at $1,480, we'll stop. I can't see people liquidating gold right now with everything that is happening," said VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov.
"You have Greece and there was nothing to indicate from the Fed that they're turning hawkish just yet," he said.
Gold has thrived on the expectation of an extended period of low US interest rates, which depress the dollar against other currencies and place bullion, which bears no yield of its own, in a better position to compete for investor cash against stocks or bonds.
The Federal Reserve earlier this week cut its growth forecasts for US growth, but did not signal there would be any additional policy measures, such as quantitative easing, to support the economy.
"We still are in very uncertain times and it's likely to continue until we see greater signs of economic growth globally, particularly in the United States, and we start to see the European debt situation ease," said Darren Heathcote, head of trading at Investec Australia.
"While those problems remain we are likely to see gold well supported. Investors flee to gold in times of trouble as they have done consistently for a very long time."
INVESTORS BUY GOLD
Reflecting the push earlier this week into gold rather than into increasingly volatile currencies was the rise in Australian-dollar denominated gold to its highest in nearly a year and the rise in sterling-gold to record highs as investors punished the pound.
Global holdings of gold in exchange-traded funds are set for a 20,8120-oz rise this week, having risen by 254,000 oz so far this month, as investors have favoured safe-haven assets rather than more industrially-linked products.
This compares with net outflows of 8.891 million ounces of metal from silver ETFs and declines of 36,000 oz in palladium ETFs.
Silver was down around 0.4 percent on the day at $35.11 an ounce, while the gold/silver ratio -- the number of ounces of silver needed to buy one ounce of gold -- is close to its highest in a month, highlighting gold's outperformance relative to silver.
News that industrialised nations would release oil from emergency stockpiles for the third time in history in a bid to tame high energy prices that have been weighing on the global economy could cap gold's gains, but should boost prices of industrial metals.
The news sent oil prices tumbling to four-month lows on Thursday but prices have regained some footing on Friday as traders assessed how much supply would reach the market.
Bullion investors are also paying close attention to discussions over the US debt limit after budget talks collapsed on Thursday when Republican negotiators walked out, casting doubt on Washington's ability to reach a deal that would allow the government to keep borrowing and avoid a debt default.
Also on the radar is the final estimate for US first-quarter GDP data, due later on Friday, along with monthly durable goods orders, following a recent spate of weak economic numbers.
Platinum was last up 0.5 percent at $1,702.99 an ounce, having fallen on Wednesday to three-month lows, while palladium was up 0.2 percent at $742.35.
Copyright Reuters, 2011