CORRECTED - US gold ends slightly lower, dollar, oil weigh


(Corrects 2007 low to $603 from $630 in paragraph 5)

NEW YORK, Jan 29 (Reuters) - U.S. gold futures ended slightly lower Monday and silver and other precious metals also fell, hurt by a higher dollar, weaker oil and options-related selling ahead of the release of several key U.S. economic indicators later this week.

Most-active gold for February delivery on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange settled down $1.50 at $643.20 an ounce, traded between $640.80 and $648.20 an ounce.

Estimated volume was 41,000 contracts and options turnover was 21,000. Turnover in the Chicago Board of Trade's electronically traded 100-oz gold contract was 61,400 contracts as of 2:41 p.m. EST (1941 GMT). (,3181,297,00.html).

"I think it's going to need some fresh bullish stimulus," otherwise a "near-term correction" was possible, said David Rinehimer, director of commodities research at Citigroup Global Markets. He added that the level of demand in the cash market was probably slowing with the rise in gold prices.

February futures have soared more than $50 to their 2007 peak of $654.80 on Thursday from a low of $603 earlier this month.

Rinehimer said that the most recent U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed noncommercial net long positions -- basically speculation -- in gold had a "pretty good" build-up for the second consecutive week, though that was not surprising considered the market had moved up.

Speculators in U.S. gold futures raised their net longs by 34 percent in the week to Jan. 23 as prices soared to new highs, according to the CFTC's most recent Commitment of Traders report. [ID:nN26476904]

Rinehimer added that if the contract broke much below $640 an ounce, the market could see see some stops being activated.

Andy Montano, director at bullion dealer ScotiaMocatta, attributed gold's softness to the over-the-counter options expiry for the end of January and a "good, strong dollar" against most major currencies.

In addition to the recent options expiries, the first notice day for the February contract will be on Wednesday, and investors have to decide whether to roll the February futures into the April contract, creating additional buzz in the market.

The U.S. dollar slipped against the euro as dealers positioned themselves for the latest Fed statement on policy due on Wednesday.

Oil fell more than a dollar to below $54 a barrel after Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States said current prices were good for consumers and producers and other OPEC members showed signs of hiking supplies for March. [ID:nSP17774]

Gold usually moves in the opposite direction of the dollar, while the precious metal is usually viewed as a hedge against oil-led inflation.

Investors are looking ahead to the release of key U.S. economic data due for this week, including the fourth-quarter GDP data and the Federal Reserve's rate decision on Wednesday, Personal Consumption Expenditure Index on Thursday and January employment data on Friday.

Spot gold was quoted at $642.60/3.60 an ounce, compared with $645.00/6.00 traded late Friday. London's afternoon gold fix was $644.75.

COMEX March silver finished 12.5 cents lower at $13.250 an ounce, traded in a tight range between $13.210 and $13.500.

Spot silver fell to $13.140/3.210, below its late Friday quote of $13.310/3.380. Silver was fixed in London at $13.250 an ounce.

NYMEX April platinum closed down $6.80 at $1,174.70 an ounce. Spot platinum fetched $1,163.00/68.00.

NYMEX March palladium fell $6.00, or 1.7 percent, to end at $344.95 an ounce. Spot palladium was quoted at $340/345.00.



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