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PRECIOUS-Gold touches 2019 low as China data lifts risk assets
Published at 18/04/2019 at 02:52

April 18 (Reuters) - Gold prices on Thursday touched their lowest this year, and were on course for a fourth straight weekly decline, as recent economic data drove investors towards riskier assets, with traders eyeing clues to gauge the health of global economy.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,272.33 per ounce, as of 0147 GMT, having touched $1,271.71 earlier in the session, its lowest since Dec. 27, 2018.

* U.S. gold futures dipped 0.2 percent lower to $1,274.50 an ounce.

* Economic data from China tempered concerns about global growth and took the sheen off safe-haven bullion.

* Investors' immediate focus turned to the release of Purchasing Managers Indexes (PMIs) for the manufacturing and service sectors in Europe later in the day to provide more clues on the strength of the euro zone economy.

* Asian shares edged up to a nine-month high with the Good Friday and Easter holidays keeping investors on the sidelines.

* The euro was buoyant on Thursday after more evidence of strength in China improved the outlook for the global economy, with the market looking next to European indicators to provide the currency with a further boost.

* China's economy grew at a steady 6.4 percent pace in the first quarter, defying expectations for a further slowdown, as industrial production jumped sharply and consumer demand showed signs of improvement.

* The U.S. Federal Reserve said on Wednesday it found economic activity in the country grew at a slight-to-moderate pace in March and early April.

* The U.S. trade deficit fell to an eight-month low in February as imports from China plunged, temporarily providing a boost to President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda and economic growth in the first quarter.

* Japanese manufacturing activity contracted at a slightly slower pace in April due to a pick-up in hiring, but new export orders fell at the fastest pace in almost three years in a sign slow global demand remains a major pressure point for the economy.

* Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust , the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, edged up 0.08 percent to 752.86 tonnes on Wednesday from 752.27 tonnes on Tuesday, still around their lowest levels since Oct. 27.

DATA AHEAD (GMT)

* 0715 France Markit Mfg Flash PMI April

* 0730 Germany Markit Mfg Flash PMI April

* 0800 EU Markit Mfg Flash PMI April

* 0800 EU Markit Serv Flash PMI April

* 0800 EU Markit Comp Flash PMI April

* 0830 UK Retail Sales MM March

* 0830 UK Retail Sales Ex-Fuel MM March

* 0830 UK Retail Sales YY March

* 1230 U.S. Initial Jobless Claims Weekly

* 1230 U.S. Retail Sales MM March

(Reporting by Arijit Bose in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

((Arijit.Bose@thomsonreuters.com; Within U.S. +1 651 848 5832, Outside U.S. +91 8067495254; Reuters Messaging: Arijit.Bose.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))