Singapore: Gold rebounded from intraday low on Friday on physical buying, but it was on track for its
biggest annual loss in more than 30 years as hopes of a global economic recovery and rallies in equities dent its appeal as an alternative investment.
Bullion has shed more than 27 percent this year as the long-expected tapering of the U.S. Federal Reserve's bond-buying stimulus programme took the shine off the precious metal, which is seen as a hedge against inflation.
Gold hit an intraday low around USD 1,208 an ounce before recovering to USD 1,213.80 by 0707 GMT, up 0.29 percent.
The precious metal touched record highs above USD 1,900 in 2011, when a worsening debt crisis in Europe sparked a buying rush.
"Sentiment I think is bearish for next year," said Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong, adding that declines in exchange-traded funds holdings could potentially drag down prices.
"Gold may have to test at least USD 1,180 and then after that, USD 1,100. Let's see how the physical demand is and how the economy behaves."
U.S. gold was steady at USD 1,213.30 an ounce.
SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.19 percent to 804.22 tonnes on Thursday from 805.72 tonnes on Tuesday. In ounces, holdings slipped to 25,856,464.05 ounces from 25,904,686.51 - the weakest since 2009.
Dealers noted physical buying from Chinese consumers on Friday, but demand from Indonesia and Thailand had eased in recent weeks because of their weak currencies.
Premiums for gold bars inched up to a high of USD 2 an ounce above spot London prices in Hong Kong, higher than USD 1.50 last week on some tightness at the end of the year as dealers awaited the arrival of fresh supply from Europe next month.
Premiums in Singapore, a centre for bullion trading in Southeast Asia, were steady at $1.50 an ounce, with dealers watching the political drama in Thailand.
Thailand's government rejected a call from the Election Commission on Thursday to postpone a February vote after clashes between police and anti-government protesters in which a policeman was killed and nearly 100 people were hurt.
"Indonesia has been quiet but it has exported a lot of gold in 2013 because of the weak currency," said a physical dealer in Singapore. "I guess for Thailand, we will have to wait and see.
I don't think the protests will end unless there's a consensus."
In other markets, Asian shares notched up gains on Friday after a powerful performance by Wall Street, while Japanese economic data impressed and the dollar briefly broke the 105 yen barrier for the first time in five years.
First Published: Friday, December 27, 2013, 13:23