Mon, 28 Oct 03:46:00 GMT
* Price steady near $1,350 ahead of Fed meeting
* Gains seen likely if Fed delays stimulus tapering
* SPDR holdings fall 4.5 tonnes [GOL/ETF]
(Adds comments from dealers, updates prices)
By A. Ananthalakshmi
SINGAPORE, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Gold was hovering near five-week highs on Monday as traders bet the U.S. Federal Reserve would stick with its bullion-friendly stimulus measures at a policy meeting later this week.
Bullion has fallen nearly 20 percent this year as investors dumped gold holdings for better-performing stock markets and on fears that the end of easy money from the U.S. central bank would dim the metal's inflation-hedge appeal.
In the past two weeks, however, gold has gained about 6 percent as weak U.S. data and budget battles in Washington looked set to deter the Fed from scaling back asset purchases.
"We believe the tapering will definitely be delayed and that's positive for precious metals," said Brian Lan, managing director of GoldSilver Central Pte Ltd. "Gold prices will close above $1,400 by the end of the year."
Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,350.41 an ounce by 0314 GMT. On Friday, it touched $1,355.20, its highest since Sept. 20.
Platinum gained as much as 0.7 percent on fears that strikes in South Africa could curb supply. [ID:nL5N0IF0PT]
The Fed's policy-setting committee will release a statement on its decision on Wednesday at the end of a two-day meeting.
The central bank is unlikely to make any shift in monetary policy this week and will continue to buy back bonds at an $85 billion monthly rate as it waits for more evidence of how badly Washington's budget battle has hurt the economy. [ID:nL1N0IF11N]
Traders are also closely monitoring physical demand in Asia, the biggest consumer of gold, where demand has become subdued following a big rush earlier this year.
"Physical demand is quiet because of higher prices. The only market that is buying is India," said Lan.
Premiums in India jumped to a record high of $130 an ounce last week as government restrictions on gold imports squeezed supply during the peak holiday season. [GOL/AS]
India, where gold is considered auspicious and is bought during weddings and festivals, celebrates Diwali and Dhanteras festivals in early November.
In China, premiums on the Shanghai Gold Exchange fell into negative territory on Monday although they recovered later to about $1 an ounce. Premiums were as high as $30 in April-May.
A dealer in Hong Kong said higher prices were prompting some consumers to sell.
Precious metals prices 0314 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume
Spot Gold 1350.41 -1.87 -0.14 -19.36
Spot Silver 22.53 0.03 +0.13 -25.59
Spot Platinum 1450.99 6.09 +0.42 -5.47
Spot Palladium 738.47 -1.50 -0.20 6.72
COMEX GOLD DEC3 1350.70 -1.80 -0.13 -19.40 11988
COMEX SILVER DEC3 22.56 -0.08 -0.37 -25.58 4322
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Joseph Radford and Alan Raybould)
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