(Updates prices; adds comment, second byline; previous dateline LONDON)
* Gold hits more than 1-1/2 year low last week
* Weak prices stimulating physical demand in Asia
* Bearish speculators remain in control
* Investors looking ahead to U.S. Fed speech on Friday
* Technicals suggest gold has further to fall
By Renita D. Young and Peter Hobson
NEW YORK/LONDON, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Gold prices inched higher on Monday after touching a more than 1-1/2 year low last week as China’s strengthening currency made the metal cheaper for buyers in the world’s biggest gold consumer.
Gold has tumbled 13 percent from an April high as the dollar appreciated against the yuan and other currencies, raising the cost of dollar-priced bullion outside the United States.
That pressure eased after news of U.S.-China trade talks planned for this week helped lift the yuan, said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen.
Spot gold gained 0.3 percent at $1,188.10 an ounce by 1:35 p.m. EDT (1735 GMT), after Thursday’s dip to $1,159.96, the lowest since January 2017.
U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled up $10.40, or 0.9 percent, at $1,194.60 per ounce.
“Value-buying in this oversold territory is highly likely to underpin gold prices,” Religare Securities analyst Sugandha Sachdeva said. Lower prices are sparking a revival in demand for physical gold in Asia.
Lower prices have also sparked an increase in gold options trading from bargain-hunters who are pushing bullion prices higher, said ThinkMarkets.com analyst Naeem Aslam. Should China’s yuan continue to strengthen, gold would become cheaper for Chinese investors.
However, “the price really needs to break above the $1,200 mark in order for us to have any kind of confidence that the bulls are back in power. Otherwise it would be very much like a bull trap,” Aslam said.
Downward pressure from speculators remains strong. Bets on lower prices by hedge funds and money managers on the Comex exchange continue to build and outweigh bets on higher prices by 77,273 lots, the largest quantity ever recorded.
Technical and momentum indicators suggest gold will fall toward support at its January 2017 low of $1,146.20, said analysts at ScotiaMocatta. Fibonacci resistance was at $1,185.30, they said.
Investors are anticipating a Friday speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at an economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he might give clues about the pace of U.S. interest rate rises, analysts said.
Rising interest rates make gold, which pays no interest and costs to store and insure, less attractive.
Spot silver lost 0.7 percent at $14.66 an ounce after hitting its lowest since February 2016 last week.
Platinum gained 1.1 percent at $789.99 per ounce, but remained close to its lowest in a decade.
Palladium, which last week traded at its weakest since July 2017, was flat at $910.60 an ounce. Earlier, palladium hit $923.75, its highest since Aug. 2. (Additional reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru Editing by David Evans and Richard Chang)