Gold prices dip in early Asia with Greece talks in focus, U.S. shut

London (Feb 16)  Gold prices eased mildly on Monday in early Asia with Greece talks in focus later in the day and U.S. markets shut.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery eased 0.10% to $1,228.30 a troy ounce.

Elsewhere on the Comex, silver futures for March delivery fell 0.10% at $17.315 a troy ounce.

Meanwhile, copper for March delivery rose 0.12% at $2.606 a pound.

Last week, gold edged higher on Friday, as a broadly weaker U.S. dollar and ongoing uncertainty over developments in Greece boosted the appeal of the precious metal.

The drop in the dollar came after data on Friday showed that U.S. consumer sentiment unexpectedly deteriorated in February.

The preliminary reading of the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index fell to 93.6, down from January's final reading of 98.1. Economists had forecast an unchanged figure.

The report came a day after data showing that U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell 0.8% last month after dropping 0.9% in December, indicating that consumer spending remained sluggish at the start of the year.

The weak data prompted investors to trim back long positions in the greenback ahead of a three-day holiday weekend. U.S. markets will be closed on Monday in observance of Presidents' Day.

Meanwhile, officials from Greece and the European Union were due to hold fresh talks on Monday after discussions on a new debt deal last week ended without an agreement.

Greece's current €240 billion bailout is due to expire on February 28 and the new Greek government does not want it extended, fuelling fears over a conflict with its creditors which could trigger the country's exit from the euro zone.

Expectations of higher borrowing rates going forward is considered bearish for gold, as the precious metal struggles to compete with yield-bearing assets when rates are on the rise.

In the coming week, investors will be focusing on Wednesday's minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting for further indications on when the central bank may start to hike interest rates.