PRECIOUS-Gold steady as investors eye EU summit, ECB meeting

Wed Dec 7, 2011 11:13am GMT

(Adds details, updates prices; previous SINGAPORE)

* Market cautious ahead of EU summit, ECB meeting

* Gold holds around 100-day moving average

* Gold-platinum spread widens

By Harpreet Bhal

LONDON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Gold steadied on Wednesday, with investors marking time ahead of an EU summit this week which they hope will deliver a lasting solution to the region's debt crisis, while a weak euro weighed on the precious metal's price.

Spot gold edged down 0.1 percent to $1,726.65 an ounce by 1058 GMT, having hit a near one-week low hit in the previous session.

Caution about the euro zone debt crisis is expected to dominate sentiment this week, ahead of a European Union summit on Friday and a European Central Bank meeting on Thursday.

The EU summit comes against the backdrop of mounting expectations that leaders will take steps to forge greater fiscal integration in the bloc, while the ECB is seen cutting its main interest rate for the second month running.

Monetary policy easing raises the inflation outlook and benefits gold, seen as an inflation hedge.

"For the moment gold is likely to trade with the rest of the commodity sector and the short-term outlook depends on what we hear from the summit," said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodity research at Commerzbank.

"But hopes are already so high that it is likely that some will be disappointed."

Adding to pressure for gold prices, the euro fell against the dollar after a German government official said Berlin was increasingly pessimistic about the chances of a deal to solve the euro zone debt crisis at this week's summit.

A strong dollar makes commodities priced in the U.S. unit more expensive for holders of other currencies.

U.S. gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,734.40

GOLD-PLATINUM SPREAD WIDENS

Gold hit a record $1,920.30 in September and is trading up almost 22 percent in the year-to-date. On Wednesday it held just under its 100-day moving average at $1,727.73, and analysts reckon events this week could test the precious metal's resilience.

"It's a difficult week ahead, but gold risks testing its recent lows around $1,700/oz. If European leaders manage to come up with a plan, we will likely see a relief rally in the euro which will take gold higher with it," ANZ analysts said in a note.

Among other precious metals, spot silver eased 0.3 percent to $32.62, while platinum gained 0.5 percent to $1,527.24 an ounce, bouncing from a 1-1/2-month low of $1,494.35 hit in the previous session.

The gold-platinum spread widened to $204 an ounce on Tuesday, its widest since Reuters started recording prices in 1985, and remained around $200.

Platinum has been at a discount to gold for the past three months -- the longest period since 1985, as the metal, mainly used in jewellery and autocatalysts, lost its attraction during the global economic downturn.

Spot palladium rose 0.6 percent to $671.72. (Editing by Keiron Henderson)