Gold below $1,200 on steadier dollar; eyes on Greece, China

London (Apr 20)  Gold fell below $1,200 an ounce on Monday as the dollar steadied, while traders were assessing risks that Greece may default and China's new policy measures to shore up the world's second-largest economy.

Spot gold was down 0.5 percent at $1,198.21 an ounce by 1142 GMT, while U.S. gold futures for June delivery fell $5.10 to $1,202.90 an ounce.

The dollar was up 0.4 percent versus a basket of leading currencies on Monday, having suffered a near 2 percent drop last week as underwhelming U.S. data prompted the market to trim long positions.

U.S. inflation data on Friday that indicated the U.S. Federal Reserve could start raising interest rates this year failed to boost the greenback.

The Fed's policy meeting later this month will be eyed for stronger clues about the timing of a rate hike.

An early rate hike could diminish demand for bullion, a non-interest-paying asset.

"The uncertainty about interest rate hikes is opening the door for gold strength and then should there be serious concerns about some geopolitical elements in Greece or elsewhere, that is going to boost gold," ING Bank senior strategist Hamza Khan said.

"For now, the Greece situation hasn't really led to a stronger dollar...but equally we are not really seeing a flight to safety."

Euro zone deputy finance ministers will meet midweek ahead of a Eurogroup finance ministers' gathering two days later, a Greek government official told Reuters, as Athens and its creditors continue to seek a deal on reforms to unlock aid.

While uncertainty over the situation in Greece could lift some retail demand in Europe, there had been no significant uptick in physical demand from Asia, the top consuming region, traders said.

Economic sluggishness in China, the world's second-biggest bullion consumer, in particular was a concern given the central bank's easing measures over the weekend.

China's central bank on Sunday cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves, to help spur bank lending and combat slowing growth.

Easing measures would have typically boosted demand for gold. However, Chinese prices were at a premium of about $1 an ounce to the global benchmark, unchanged from Friday.

"We are not seeing any big demand from the Chinese whatsoever," a trader said.

In India, the top bullion consumer, consumers were holding back purchases ahead of Akshay Tritiya, a key gold buying festival on Tuesday.

Spot silver was down 1.1 percent at $16.05 an ounce. Platinum lost 1 percent to $1,153.40 an ounce and palladium fell 1.1 percent to $771.70 an ounce.

Source: Reuters