CHICAGO, Mar. 17-- Gold futures on the COMEX Division of the New York Mercantile Exchange recovered but still closed below the 1,400 U.S. dollars mark on Wednesday, as Asian stock markets regained some steam and worldwide investors struggled to look beyond the horrific disasters in Japan.
Silver bounced back, but platinum extended losses.
The most active gold contract for April delivery climbed 3.3 dollars, or 0.2 percent, to 1,396.1 dollars per ounce.
Asian equities markets recovered on Wednesday after an avalanche of panic selling brought the markets to the ground in the previous session. Bargain hunting trickled in after the price of precious metal slumped to a one-month low, as many gold traders reassessed the fundamentals of the gold market with a calmer eye.
"After an avalanche sell-off yesterday which I believe started a liquidation of precious metals positions in order to move money into other investments and to meet margin requirements, traders appeared ready to re-enter the gold at bargain prices," said Mike Daly, a gold specialist with PFGBest in Chicago.
The precious metal wavered around the 1,400 mark in late session, as some analysts and investors showed concerns over the further impact of Japan's earthquake on gold market.
"Despite the epic struggles, the Japanese stock market opened higher perhaps helped by the 15 trillion yen or 183 billion dollars that the Japanese central bank shot into the system. While that helped stocks, it hurt precious metals that sank on concerns that not only will investor and jewelry demand falter from Japan but the possibility that at some point the Japanese central bank may sell gold reserves to raise capital for reconstruction," said Phil Flynn, the general market analyst with PFGBest in Chicago.
Meanwhile, the bullion also gained some support after Moody's Investors Service cut Portugal's debt rating by two notches to A3, rekindling concerns over eurozone sovereign debt. And the newly- gained strength in crude oil prices also added to the upward pressure on the precious metal.
Silver for May delivery surged 35.5 cents, or 1 percent, to 34. 472 dollars an ounce. April platinum trimmed 5.1 dollars, or 0.3 percent, to 1,700.5 dollars an ounce.