(Updates prices, physical activity)
By Lewa Pardomuan
SINGAPORE, April 26 (Reuters) - Gold edged up on Thursday on
gains in equities and expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve
could do more if necessary to lift the economy, recouping
earlier losses triggered by a lack of surprises from the central
bank's meeting on interest rates.
The Fed has already engaged in two rounds of asset
purchases totalling $2.3 trillion, known as quantitative easing,
to drive down interest rates and stimulate the economy. The
latest QE helped push up commodity prices by providing cheap
money to investors who placed it in riskier assets.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said U.S. monetary policy was
"more or less in the right place" even though the central bank
would not hesitate to launch another round of bond purchases if
the economy were to weaken.
Gold added $3.54 an ounce to $1,647.52 by 0608 GMT,
having fallen to a low of $1,641.15 earlier.
It hit a low at $1,623.90 on Wednesday in a knee-jerk
sell-off after the Fed disappointed investors who had hoped for
another round of asset purchases.
"I think going forward, gold will probably trade in the
direction of where the macro-economy is going. If we hear fresh
news from the euro zone that the debt crisis is re-emerging,
then we could see some safe haven demand," said Lynette Tan, an
analyst with Phillip Futures.
"I am still looking at gold to trade in a range of $1,600 to
$1,660. For Q2, I am not looking at gold to make large price
moves. Recently, physical demand for gold has fallen, especially
in India, which means gold will lack the physical support that
it needs to move prices higher."
Sales for Akshaya Tritiya, the second biggest gold buying
festival in top gold consumer India after Dhanteras, are
estimated to have fallen by a half to 10 tonnes this year on
high prices and as inflation crimped savings.
Gold prices, which have tended to follow riskier assets,
found support from firm equities markets.
Shares across Asia gained on Thursday, retaining positive
momentum as the Fed reassured markets that it will keep its very
accommodative stance to support growth, while optimism grew over
strong quarterly corporate earnings.
Gold rallied to a 2012 high around $1,790 in late February
after the Fed at the time said it would keep interest rates near
zero until at least by the end of 2014.
The physical market was largely deserted as jewellery makers
watched gold prices gyrate. "Demand is slow. We've seen good
profit takings from Thailand, but there's nothing from
Indonesia," a dealer in Singapore said.
Investors will scrutinise efforts by Europe to solve the
debt crisis after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi
called for a "growth compact" but put the onus on euro zone
governments to shape-up their economies.
Bullion raced to a record of around $1,920 last September on
fears the euro debt crisis could stall global growth.
"We think that in the days ahead, focus will revert to the
still-festering European debt crisis and the fact that we are in
a synchronized global slowdown, likely keeping pressure on the
central banks to remain accommodative," INTL FC Stone analyst
Edward Meir wrote in a note.
"In addition, European elections, at least from what we have
been able to judge thus far, are generating a strong backlash
towards austerity measures and a clear desire to pursue more
definitive growth policies."
U.S. gold for June added $6.40 to $1,648.70 an
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar floundered at
three-week lows against a basket of major currencies after the
Fed did little to alter the perception that it remained deeply
committed to a dovish policy stance.