Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Gold swung between gains and losses near a six-month low as investors weighed signs of improving economic growth against speculation that the biggest weekly drop since May will spur purchases. Platinum rose as rubber bullets were used in a clash at an Anglo American Platinum Ltd. mine.
Bullion dropped 3.4 percent last week and holdings in gold- backed exchange-traded products fell the most since July in the period on growing confidence that the global economy is strengthening. Billionaire investor George Soros cut his gold ETP holdings last quarter, government filings showed last week. UBS AG said in a report today that its gold flows to India, the top buyer, were above average after the sell-off, and Morgan Stanley said it expects “bargain hunting” this week.
“In the face of increasingly positive economic data and good stock market yields, the zero returns of gold and silver are looking more and more unattractive,” David Govett, head of precious metals at Marex Spectron Group in London, wrote in a report today. “Gold has been meandering aimlessly for a while now and needed a move one way or the other to wash out a lot of stale positions. We have seen the return of the Asian market and some physical buying, albeit light.”
Gold for immediate delivery fell 0.1 percent to $1,607.94 an ounce by 4:50 p.m. in London. Prices lost as much as 0.2 percent after rising 0.5 percent earlier today, and slid to $1,598.23 on Feb. 15, the lowest since Aug. 15. Futures for April delivery were 0.1 percent lower at $1,607.40 on the Comex in New York.
U.S. financial markets are shut today for the Presidents’ Day holiday. Futures trading volume was 42 percent lower than the average in the past 100 days for this time of day. Volume for gold of 99.99 percent purity on the Shanghai Gold Exchange exceeded 22,000 kilograms (22 metric tons) today for the first time, according to data tracked by Bloomberg. Markets in Asia were closed last week for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Bullion at the afternoon “fixing,” used by some mining companies to sell output, was at $1,610.75 in London, little changed from $1,611.25 this morning.
Holdings in gold ETPs fell 0.5 percent to 2,602.3 tons last week, and are now 1.1 percent below the Dec. 20 record, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Soros reduced his investment in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest fund backed by the metal, by 55 percent as of Dec. 31 from three months earlier. Paulson & Co., the largest investor, kept its stake unchanged, a filing showed.
Silver for immediate delivery rose 0.3 percent to $29.8894 an ounce, after reaching a six-week low of $29.6912 on Feb. 15. Palladium added 0.6 percent to $762.74 an ounce. Platinum was up 0.6 percent at $1,691 an ounce, after rising as much as 1.1 percent to $1,698.75.
Anglo American Platinum, the biggest producer of the metal, said nine workers were shot with rubber bullets by security guards and three guards were hurt in fighting between rival labor groups at its South African Siphumelele mine in Rustenburg. There were no fatalities and the injured employees received medical attention, the company said in an e-mailed statement.
--With assistance from Glenys Sim in Singapore. Editors: Sharon Lindores, John Deane