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Reuters - Gold firms near highs, euro debt worries persist

Wed Dec 1, 2010 10:33pm EST
* China Jan-Oct gold imports jump six-fold
* Gold to target $1,403/z - technicals [ID:nL3E6N201H]
* Coming Up: U.S. Initial Claims Weekly; 1330 GMT 

 (Updates prices, adds quotes) 
By Lewa Pardomuan 
SINGAPORE, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Gold firmed on Thursday, 
within sight of its highest in nearly three weeks hit the 
previous session, as worries about euro zone's fiscal crisis 
lingered despite hopes the European Central Bank and the 
United States would step in to help.  
The European Central Bank is under pressure to unveil new 
steps to stabilise the euro zone when it meets on Thursday as 
the currency bloc battles a crippling debt crisis that has 
stoked contagion fears in the United States and Asia. 
Spot gold added $4.57 to $1,391.92 an ounce by 
0312 GMT after rising as high as $1,396.70 on Wednesday -- its 
strongest since Nov. 12. Bullion was still below a lifetime 
high around $1,424 struck in early November. 
Bullion got a bit of a boost from news that China's gold 
imports jumped six-fold in January to October to more than 200 
tonnes, although dealers said Thursday's gains were mostly 
driven by investment demand. [ID:L3E6N203D] 
"I don't think you can solve this problem a short period 
of time. I think we are still worried about the situation in 
Europe," said Dick Poon, manager at Heraeus in Hong Kong.  
"Recently, we only see physical demand on the investment 
side. Other than that, manufacturers are quite slow. This is 
related to the high price. They take sometime off," said Poon, 
referring to jewellery makers. 
U.S. gold futures for February rose $5.0 an ounce 
to at $1,393.3 an ounce.     
The world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR 
Gold Trust , said its holdings rose to 1,293.891 tonnes 
by Dec 1 from 1,286.603 tonnes on Nov 29. The holdings hit a 
record at 1,320.436 tonnes on June 29. 
A bullish target at $1,403 per ounce for spot gold 
is unchanged, as the current  rise may extend its gain to the 
100 percent Fibonacci  projection level, according to Wang 
Tao, who is a Reuters market analyst for commodities  and 
energy technicals. 
For a 24-hour gold technical outlook:  
"I think a recovery in Europe will be very slow. Even 
though Portugal said that it has no problem, people don't 
believe that," said dealer in Hong Kong.  
"The worry is psychological. The European Union has to 
step in and give them the money," he added. 
Even after Ireland's bailout, investors have been losing  
confidence that Portugal and Spain can escape a similar fate,  
leading to expectations the ECB will announce backstop 
measures to keep cash flowing in its financial system, though 
it may disappoint investors by not being ready to increase 
bond purchases just yet. [ID:nLDE6B00QU][ID:nLDE6B01V3] 
A U.S. official told Reuters that Washington would be 
ready to support the extension of the European Financial 
Stability Facility via an extra commitment of money from the 
International Monetary Fund. [ID:nLDE6B023Z] 
Silver tracked gold higher, while platinum group 
metals  also firmed.  
The world's largest silver-backed exchange-traded fund, 
iShares Silver Trust , said its holdings rose to 
10,782.69 tonnes by Dec. 1 from 10,711.23 tonnes by Nov. 26. 
The holdings jumped to an all-time high of 10,893.68 tonnes on 
Nov 23.[ID:nL3E6N1009] 
The euro held on to overnight gains early in Asia on 
Thursday, having posted its biggest one-day rise in six weeks 
in a dramatic turnaround as the market cut short positions 
ahead of the European Central Bank policy meeting.  
Japan's Nikkei share average rose 2 percent to a 
fresh five-month high on Thursday, after Wall Street gained 
the most in three months on talk of steps to resolve the EU's 
debt crisis.   
  Precious metals prices at 0312 GMT                                            
  Metal             Last    Change  Pct chg  YTD pct chg  Turnover              
  Spot Gold        1391.92    4.57   +0.33     27.03                            
  Spot Silver        28.56    0.12   +0.42     69.70                            
  Spot Platinum    1691.74    9.00   +0.53     15.32                            
  Spot Palladium    736.47    4.98   +0.68     81.62                            
  TOCOM Gold       3771.00   23.00   +0.61     15.71        48170               
  TOCOM Platinum   4626.00  104.00   +2.30      5.59        14298               
  TOCOM Silver       77.50    1.20   +1.57     49.90         1526               
  TOCOM Palladium  2002.00  107.00   +5.65     71.85         1362               
  Euro/Dollar       1.3113                                                      
  Dollar/Yen         84.08                                                      
TOCOM prices in yen per gram. Spot prices in $ per ounce.                     
 (Editing by Himani Sarkar) 

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