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Feb 27, 2013, 08.42 AM IST | Source: Reuters

Gold gains most in 3 months as Bernanke defends policy

Gold rose 1.3 percent on Tuesday, its biggest one-day gain in three months, as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's defense of US bond-buying stimulus boosted bullion's inflation-hedge appeal.

Gold gains most in 3 months as Bernanke defends policy

Gold rose 1.3 percent on Tuesday, its biggest one-day gain in three months, as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's defense of US bond-buying stimulus boosted bullion's inflation-hedge appeal.

The metal broke above USD 1,600 an ounce, extending its rally to a fourth straight day, after Bernanke said Fed policymakers are cognizant of potential risks from its loose monetary policy, but the risks did not seem material now.

Recent comments by top Fed officials suggesting the US central bank could reduce or halt its asset buying had heavily pressured gold prices. A solid performance by US equities driven by economic optimism had also prompted bullion selling.

Gold tumbled to a seven-month low on Thursday but has since rebounded 3.5 percent in the last four sessions.

"In the near term, this selloff may provide some opportunities given Bernanke's comment about the continuation of stimulus," said Robert Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

Spot gold gained 1.3 percent to USD 1,615.16 an ounce by 2:54 p.m. EST (1954 GMT), its biggest one-day rise since November 23, 2012. It had earlier reached a one-week high of USD 1,619.66.

U.S. gold futures for April delivery settled up USD 28.90 at USD 1,615.50 an ounce, with trading volume around 45 percent above its 250-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.

On Monday, gold had rallied as a sharp pullback in US equities and uncertainty over the outcome of Italy's parliamentary election led to safe-haven buying.

In his testimony on the central bank's semiannual report on monetary policy, Bernanke said the Fed has all the tools it needs to retreat from its monetary support in a timely fashion.

"We do not see the potential costs of the increased risk-taking in some financial markets as outweighing the benefits of promoting a stronger economic recovery and more rapid job creation," Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee.

Money printing by global policymakers to weaken their currencies and a pick-up in central-bank bullion buying should underpin gold prices, said Rob Lutts, chief investment officer of Cabot Money Management, which oversees about USD 500 million in client assets.

GOLDMAN CUTS GOLD FORECAST

The market largely ignored a cut of more than USD 200 in the gold price outlook by Goldman Sachs , one of the top global bullion banks.

It reduced its 2013 gold price forecast to USD 1,600 an ounce from $1,810, citing bullion's recent price drop and an increase in US real interest rates.

If that projection proves accurate, it will mark the first year gold has recorded a lower average price year-on-year since 2001, when its record-breaking 12-year bull run began.

Investment interest in the metal stayed weak. The world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, reported its fourth successive daily outflow on Monday.

Among other precious metals, silver rose 1.1 percent to USD 29.34 per ounce. Platinum was up 0.9 percent at USD 1,618.74, while palladium climbed 1.3 percent to USD 742.72 per ounce.

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