Gold rose almost 1 percent on Thursday, bouncing off a 4-1/2 month low, as weaker prices attracted new physical buyers, but gains were likely to be limited as the euro was undermined by fears of a deepening debt crisis in Greece.
Spot gold rose 0.6 percent an ounce to $1,547.86 by 0950 GMT, from $1,538.30 late in New York on Wednesday.
The precious metal rose to a high of $1,553.36 earlier, as the euro briefly regained strength following a drop to a four-month low on Wednesday. Bullion plunged to $1,527 - its weakest since Dec. 29 - on Wednesday.
U.S. gold futures hit a high of $1,553.70 an ounce and were at $1,548.40, up 0.8 percent. The contract had plunged to a multi-month low of $1,526.70 on Wednesday.
Gold, traditionally a safe-haven asset, has been moving in tandem with riskier assets such as equities, industrial metals and oil this year, as investors turned to the safety of the dollar.
However, this may soon change, according to some.
“Since yesterday we have seen more interest come through from physical buyers especially in India because prices have come down substantially,” said Afshin Nabavi, head of trading at MKS Finance.
“But there is more upside than downside risk for gold at the moment as the political situation is very jittery with tension in Iran and economic problems especially in the euro zone. People will want to buy physical gold again. Those who went out since December are now waiting for prices to stabilize before getting in again.”
Since last year, many investors have unwound their bullish bets in gold, cashing in the metal to cover for losses in other markets, after the turmoil in Europe raised the spectre of a recession that threatens to hurt the global economy.
But in China, gold demand hit a record high in the first quarter due to investor worries over inflation and property market curbs, the World Gold Council said on Thursday, bucking a lower trend in global consumption driven by higher gold prices.
“Evidently, some buying on the dips emerged above December lows also with fresh physical inflows with prices starting to look attractive,” said VTB Capital in a research note.
“Some physical interest is welcome, but much more serious buying out of Asia needs to emerge for us to see a sustained recovery. For now, the investor community remains spooked and is unlikely to return to the market with full vigour unless we have a monumental credit event in Europe or a pronounced dollar retreat.”
The euro held above a four-month low on Thursday, taking a breather from a sharp sell-off, although gains are likely to be checked by worries about the solvency of some Greek banks that are adding to fears the country may exit the euro zone.
A weaker euro against the dollar makes dollar-priced commodities such as precious metals costlier for euro holders.
IMF chief Christine Lagarde warned of “extremely expensive” consequences if Greece were to leave the euro zone, a once taboo possibility that European leaders have begun to discuss openly given the nation’s political chaos.
In other precious metals, silver was up 1.5 percent on the day at $27.55 an ounce, having fallen for eight days in a row, its longest losing streak since a 10-day decline that began in late August 2008, just before the global financial crisis claimed some of Wall Street’s biggest banks.
Platinum was up 1 percent at $1,439.20 an ounce, while palladium rose 2.4 percent to $600.75 an ounce.