* Obama seen continuing with economic stimulus
* Attention shifts to resolving U.S. "fiscal cliff"
* Indian gold imports slow
By David Brough
LONDON, Nov 7 Gold hit two-week highs on
Wednesday, and stayed in positive territory even as the dollar
recovered initial losses on President Barack Obama's
re-election, with focus on continued low interest rates and
resolving the so-called "fiscal cliff".
Rallying with world shares, gold jumped to around
$1,729 an ounce, its strongest since Oct 23.
As the dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies,
gold lost some ground and stood at $1,720.29 by 1235 GMT, still
up 0.2 percent. It was well below a record high around $1,920
struck in September last year. U.S. gold for December
rose $3.70 to $1,718.70 an ounce.
Obama won a second term in the White House, overcoming deep
doubts among voters about his handling of the U.S. economy to
score a clear victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
"Nothing will change with regard to the ultra-loose monetary
policy of the Fed," Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann said.
Gold had rallied to an 11-month high above $1,795 an ounce
on Oct. 5 after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced a third round
of aggressive economic stimulus in September.
Gold prices then drifted back to nine-week lows around
$1,672 due to uncertainty over the policy impact of the U.S.
Analysts and investors were already shifting focus to the
fiscal challenges facing Obama in his second term.
A Congress split between the two parties will keep open the
likelihood of messy negotiations to avert the "fiscal cliff" -
nearly $600 billion worth of spending cuts and tax increases
that risk pushing the economy into deep recession.
"It is not going to be too easy for the President to reach a
deal on how to resolve the fiscal cliff," said Christin Tuxen,
analyst with Danske Bank.
"That is positive for the dollar," she added, referring to a
possible rise in the U.S. currency as a safe haven during the
rocky road towards resolving the fiscal challenges, which could
limit the upside in gold prices.
By contrast, Bayram Dincer of LGT Capital Management said a
resolution could occur before the deadline at the end of 2012,
auguring for a slip in the dollar against major currencies and a
rise in gold prices.
Dincer said gold could stand at around $1,800 an ounce by
the end of 2012 and some $1,900 by the end of the first half of
2013, underpinned by a continuing relaxed U.S. monetary policy
and possible further quantitative easing.
David Govett, head of precious metals at Marex Spectron,
said in a market note, referring to the looming fiscal cliff: "I
personally believe this will get sorted, but not after a lot of
haggling and negotiating and this will create a lot of
uncertainty and volatility in the markets."
"We will see a continuation of the loose monetary policies
pursued by the Fed and Chairman Bernanke, for the foreseeable
future. Low interest rates and more quantitative easing all add
up to favourable metal prices," he added.
Money printing by central banks boosts gold's appeal as it
keeps interest rates at a low level, reducing the opportunity
cost of holding a metal that has no yield outside its actual
Gold importers in India, the world's biggest buyer of the
yellow metal, slowed purchases in the peak festival season as
prices steadied near their highest level in more than two weeks.
The festive season in main gold consumer India peaks in
November with Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Weddings
also take place at this time, with gold jewellery forming a key
part of the dowry daughters receive from their parents.
But gold imports to India could fall to 550 tonnes next
year, after touching 967 tonnes in 2011, as high inflation and
prices bite into disposable incomes of consumers, the head of a
trade body said on Tuesday.
South Africa's net gold and foreign exchange reserves fell
to $48.626 billion at the end of October from $48.748 billion in
September, data from the Reserve Bank showed on Wednesday.
More of the world's rich are moving their gold and other
valuables away from the economic turmoil in the West to Asia,
prompting precious asset shipping specialist Malca-Amit to
rapidly expand its storage capacity in the prosperous region.
In other precious metals, spot platinum was up 0.21
percent at $1,553.24 and spot palladium rose 0.15 percent
Silver reversed earlier gains, and fell 0.47 percent
to $31.8 an ounce.