Gold rises on strong fund interest, economic growth woes

Weak data from the United States to China and Europe dragged Asian equities into the red, boosting outlook for gold

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Gold advanced for a second session in three on Tuesday as a wobbly outlook for the global economy burnished bullion’s safe-haven appeal, with holdings at the top gold fund at their highest in four months.

Weak data from the United States to China and Europe dragged Asian equities into the red, boosting outlook for gold which has climbed 8 percent so far in 2015 after a two-year slide.

“I think the sentiment on gold has changed from a very bearish tone last year which was due to expectations of higher U.S. interest rates,” said Yuichi Ikemizu, branch manager at Standard Bank in Tokyo.

“We have seen some good demand from Asia around $1,250 and the market is quite long at the moment.”

Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,279.20 an ounce by 0651 GMT, after trading nearly flat in Asian morning hours.

U.S. gold for April delivery gained 0.2 percent to $1,279.70 an ounce.

Rising inflows into gold funds underlined how some investors are bullish on bullion.

Holdings at SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, stood at 24.65 million ounces on Monday, the highest since October.

But Ikemizu said that the market overall remained “pretty much split between bullish and bearish,” warning there could be a sharp liquidation of long positions when the U.S. nonfarm payrolls data this week turns out strong.

A Reuters poll of analysts forecast U.S. employment data on Friday will show about 230,000 jobs were created in January, slowing slightly from 252,000 in December but still robust.

On Monday, there were signals that the U.S. economy could be on a slightly softer footing than many had thought.

U.S. consumer spending recorded its biggest decline since late 2009 in December, while factory activity cooled in January.

Those numbers followed data last week that showed a slowdown in U.S. economic expansion to 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter from 5 percent in July-September.

Elsewhere, the economic scenario remained bleak. European and Chinese factories slashed prices in January as production flat-lined, heightening global deflation risks that point to another wave of central bank stimulus in the coming year.

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