Gold prices dip in early Asia with China shut, focus on Greece vote

Singapore (Feb 23)  Gold prices dipped in early Asia on Monday with markets shut in China and eye on an upcoming vote in Greece to put in place reforms needed to secure further loans from the euro zone.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery fell 0.05% to $1,201.30 a troy ounce by close of trade on Friday.

Elsewhere on the Comex, silver futures for March delivery eased 0.34% at $16.265 a troy ounce by close of trade. Earlier in the day, prices hit $16.16, the lowest level since January 6.

Meanwhile, copper for March delivery rose 0.19% at $2.596 a pound in holiday-thinned trade.

Markets in China, the world's largest copper consumer, will remain closed until February 24 for the Lunar New Year holiday, removing a key support for prices.

The Asian nation is the world’s largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption last year.

Last week, gold ended Friday's session close to a six-week low after euro zone finance ministers agreed on a deal to extend Greece’s bailout by four months, dampening the safe-haven appeal of the precious metal.

The euro zone approved the extension of Greece’s €240 billion bailout, removing concerns that the country would face a liquidity crunch when its current bailout agreement expired at the end of the month.

Athens has until Monday to present a list of reforms to be approved by the country’s creditors in order to secure the four-month extension, which will give it more time to reach a lasting agreement with its creditors.

In the week ahead, Tuesday’s testimony by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to the Senate Banking Committee will be closely watched for any indication on when U.S. interest rates may start to rise.

On Monday in Germany, the Ifo research group is to publish its report on business climate.

Later in the day, the U.S. is to publish a report on existing home sales.