Gold prices inched up on Monday in the first trading day of the second quarter, waiting for fresh cues from the currency market as investors digest data from China and the United States as well as developments in the euro zone.
The dollar index hovered above a near one-month low hit last Friday after the euro rallied on hopes that Spain could stick to an austerity plan.
Gold has largely been taking its direction from the currency market in recent weeks in an otherwise listless range play.
“There is no fresh topic in the gold market these days,” said a trader at a large bullion house based in Tokyo.
“In the past few months people had focused on the debt crisis in Europe, now that worry has calmed down despite some remaining uncertainties and money is flowing back to equities.”
Gold moved towards $1,700 last week after the US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted of the possibility of more pro-growth measures, but momentum faded quickly and prices dipped to below $1,650.
Spot gold edged up 0.1 percent to $1,670.30 an ounce by 0645 GMT, after posting a 6.6-percent rise in the first quarter. Although prices fell 1.6 percent in March, a second straight month in the red.
COMEX June contract was flat at $1,671.90 an ounce in thin trading.
China’s financial markets are closed for a public holiday and will reopen on Thursday.
Bullion prices may end the rebound around a resistance point at $1,677 an ounce and retrace towards $1,645 during the day, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.
Spot silver led gains in the precious metals complex, up 1.2 percent to $32.58 an ounce, building on a 16-percent gain in the first quarter.
Traders said gold could stay in a range between $1,640 and $1,680 in the short term, in the absence of any major news.
China’s manufacturing data over the weekend painted a mixed picture, showing accelerated activities at big factories but continued struggles for the smaller ones.
Earlier, US data showed consumer spending increased by the most in seven months in February as households shook off a rise in gasoline prices, leading economists to raise forecasts for first-quarter growth.
Most participants in the physical market remained sidelined.
A strike by India’s jewellers enters its third week, as they await the finance minister to announce the removal of a previously planned excise duty on unbranded jewellery.
Gold holdings in the world’s key gold-backed exchange-traded funds slipped for a second consecutive week last week.
“Gold is also lacking sufficient investment enthusiasm to be able to sideline the physical market as it did earlier in the year thus, in turn, prices are struggling to gain momentum,” said Barclays.
Buy money managers, including hedge funds and other large speculators, raised their bullish bets in gold for the first time in four weeks as the price of bullion rallied to a two-week high near $1,700 an ounce.