Gold prices were steady on Monday, after the sharpest fall in four months in the previous session, as inflation concerns and sovereign debt issues in Europe offered support.
Spot gold was little changed at $1,365.75 an ounce by 0702 GMT, after falling three percent on Friday as talks of an imminent interest rates hike in China triggered a broad sell-off across financial markets.
Debt woes in Europe continued to brew, with Ireland on Sunday saying it did not rule out the possibility that it may have to turn to Europe for help in dealing with its debt crisis.
Leadership meetings of the Group of 20 and APEC held last week largely failed to offer guidance on currency issues vexing the global economy.
\"G20 and APEC meetings last week didn't really give a clear direction to the market,\" said Peter Fung, head of the dealing department at Wing Fung Precious Metals. \"The market is mixed from here on, with today's range likely to be $1,350 to $1,380.\"
While some short-covering was spotted in the market, others were seen liquidating long positions, as the market takes a breather from its record-breaking rally, Fung said.
Offering support to the market, Vietnam has abolished the import duty on gold in another effort to cool domestic prices of the metal after it has granted gold import quotas last week, a state-run newspaper reported.
Spot gold is expected to fall more to $1,341 per ounce based on a bearish triangle pattern on the hourly chart, said Wang Tao, a Reuters market analyst.
\"We may see some consolidation, but the overall trend is still looking up, as the Federal Reserve's second round of quantitative easing sets the tone for ample liquidity for the first half of 2011,\" said Li Ning, an analyst at Shanghai CIFCO Futures.
\"We have seen a quite volatile market in the past week, as investors were nervous after prices hit record highs. We could see gold pull back to $1,330 to $1,350 level.\"
Li said a major factor in the market was China. The world's largest gold producer and a fast-growing consumer of the metal, saw its consumer inflation index jump to a 25-month high in October.
\"While people are worried about inflation and have shown a growing appetite to invest in gold, a rate hike would knock prices down,\" said Li.
China should move to a more prudent monetary policy and guard against risks from loose money conditions used to counter the global financial crisis, a central bank researcher said.
The prospects of further tightening in China, together with euro zone debt woes, kept sentiment in financial markets fragile.