PRECIOUS-Gold edges up, headed for worst week in a month

SINGAPORE, May 17 (Reuters) - Gold edged up on Friday as
stock markets paused after rally, but the metal was still on
track for its worst weekly decline in a month as investors cut
exposure to bullion, sending holdings in exchange-traded funds
to the lowest in four years. 

    * Spot gold was up 0.17 percent to $1,388.11 an ounce
by 0038 GMT, having fallen to a four-week low of $1,369.29 on
Thursday as renewed liquidation in gold ETFs and the recent drop
below the $1,400-per-ounce level spooked investors.
    * U.S. gold for June delivery was little changed at
    * SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.55 percent to
1041.42 tonnes on Thursday - the lowest in four years.

    * Premiums for gold bars rallied to all-time highs in Hong
Kong and Singapore on Thursday after bullion's steepest drop
since its April sell-off fuelled another round of buying that
constricted supply. 
    * Gold investment nearly halved in the first quarter as a
brighter view of the U.S. economy prompted investors in the West
to favour other assets, but Chinese coin and bar demand hit a
quarterly record of 109.5 tonnes, the World Gold Council said on
    *  Indian gold futures fell 1.5 percent on Thursday,
extending losses for a second straight session, to hit their
lowest level in nearly a month in line with global markets. 
    * The Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) will launch after-hours
trading for Fridays on May 31 as part of its efforts to help its
members better manage price risks, the bourse said in a
statement on Thursday. 
    * For the top stories on metals and other news, click
, or 

    * The Nikkei share average fell for a second day on Friday
as caution over the recent steep rises continued to spur
profit-taking, while a pullback in Wall Street soured investor
    * Global equity markets fell on Thursday after a regional
president of the Federal Reserve said the U.S. central bank
could begin to ease up on its loose monetary policy this summer,
leading the dollar to recover against the euro. 

    1355     U.S. TR/U Michigan sentiment index     
    1400     U.S. Leading indicators              

  Metal             Last    Change  Pct chg  YTD pct chg   Volume
  Spot Gold        1388.11    2.42   +0.17    -17.10
  Spot Silver        22.67    0.01   +0.04    -25.13
  Spot Platinum    1479.99    0.99   +0.07     -3.58
  Spot Palladium    734.25   -1.75   -0.24      6.11
  COMEX GOLD JUN3  1386.70   -0.20   -0.01    -17.25        2478
  COMEX SILVER JUL3  22.63   -0.03   -0.13    -25.14         855
  Euro/Dollar       1.2884
  Dollar/Yen        102.21

  COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months

PRECIOUS-Gold rises on China PMI data; flirts with $1,600

* Gold neutral in $1,590-$1,620 range -technicals

    * Coming Up: U.S. ISM manufacturing index; 1400 GMT

 (Updates prices)
    By Lewa Pardomuan
    SINGAPORE, April 1 (Reuters) - Gold firmed on Monday, as
signs that China##Q##s economic recovery was gaining traction could
boost demand for commodities, but prices could be capped by
worries about the debt crisis in Cyprus and the weakness of the
euro versus the U.S. dollar. 
    Tension in the Korean peninsula has yet to trigger a rush in
 purchases from investors in Asia, but a full-scale conflict
between the two Koreas could potentially boost gold##Q##s safe-haven
appeal in times of uncertainty. 
    Gold hit an intraday high of $1,600.81 an ounce and
stood at $1,597.76 by 0647 GMT, up $1.59. The precious metal
ended the quarter down around 4 percent after stock markets
surged and the euro stayed weak against the dollar.
    Gold rallied to a 1-month high in March on concerns about
fiscal stability in Europe after the European Union gave Cyprus
an ultimatum to raise billions of euros it needs to clinch a
bailout deal or face a likely exit from the currency zone.
    "We are in an uncertain market. Normally a strong PMI data
from China would tend to draw investors towards stocks and not
support gold prices, but this time we see a reverse. The North
Korea tension is adding to the market uncertainty," said Brian
Lan, managing director of GoldSilver Central Pte Ltd.
    "We see physical buying by the retail investors during price
dips and this helped to support prices, which should go up above
$1,600. If everything goes well, it seems like gold could move
on to a higher trading range. Gold should test $1,620." 
    Premiums for gold bars were largely unchanged in Singapore
at 1.20 to $1.50 to the spot prices in London. 

    Stronger domestic demand helped China##Q##s factory activity to
rebound in March, with new orders up sharply in a sign the
underlying economic recovery is strong enough to weather any
risks from patchy export performance, surveys showed on Monday.

     Tokyo gold futures <0#JAU:> gave up early gains and
investors closely watched developments on the Korean peninsula
after South Korean President said the country would strike back
if the North stages any attack on its territory. 

    Tensions have been high since the North##Q##s young new leader,
Kim Jong-un, ordered a nuclear weapons test in February,
breaching U.N. sanctions and ignoring warnings from North
Korea##Q##s closest ally, China, not to do so.
    "There was some early buying on TOCOM. It may be related to
Korea, but nobody talks about it here," said a dealer in Tokyo. 
"Some places are still closed for holidays, so the market is
quiet and the volume is thin, which exaggerates movements."    
    The euro slipped to approach a four-month low on concerns
about the spillover from Cyprus##Q## bailout terms, while the
Australian dollar was tripped up after data showed a slower than
expected rebound in Chinese factory activity in March. 
    Financial markets in Australia, Hong Kong and Europe are
still closed for Easter holidays. 
    U.S. gold futures for June were at $1,598.40 an
ounce, up $2.70.   
    Hedge funds and money managers sharply raised bearish bets
on copper and trimmed net long positions in gold and silver
futures and options in the week to March 26, Commodity Futures
Trading Commission data showed on Friday. 

  Precious metals prices 0647 GMT
  Metal             Last    Change  Pct chg  YTD pct chg    Volume
  Spot Gold        1597.76    1.59   +0.10     -4.59
  Spot Silver        28.04   -0.28   -0.99     -7.40
  Spot Platinum    1571.99    6.49   +0.41      2.41
  Spot Palladium    766.00   -3.50   -0.45     10.69
  COMEX GOLD JUN3  1598.40    2.70   +0.17     -4.62        11248
  COMEX SILVER MAY3  28.02   -0.30   -1.07     -7.31         6318
  Euro/Dollar       1.2795
  Dollar/Yen         93.82

  COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months