SINGAPORE, Nov 17 (Reuters): Premiums for gold bars have hardly changed in Asia as volatile prices have curbed demand from jewellers, but investors were buying whenever the price dipped, dealers said yesterday.
Gold has yo-yoed in a wide range since rising to its highest level in nearly 18 years at $480.25 an ounce on Oct. 12 due to worries about rising energy costs. It currently traded at $472.20/473.00 an ounce.
"You may say the price is high anyway, considering that it went down below $460 two weeks ago," said one dealer in Singapore, a centre for bullion trading in Southeast Asia.
Premiums for gold bars were quoted at between 20 and 40 U.S. cents an ounce to the spot London price in Singapore, unchanged from last week GOLD/ASIA1 .
Dealers said investors had shown some interest at the lower levels but their buying was not strong enough to help gold catch up with rallies in other precious metals, such as platinum and palladium.
Gold's main commercial use is in jewellery and trinkets, which in India and other consuming countries in Asia may go into dowry chests or into safe- keeping as treasure.
Platinum rose to its highest level since March 1980 on Wednesday on the prospect of more demand for the precious metal, which is used in jewellery and auto catalysts.
Dealers also noted some fund buying in Tokyo gold futures 0 JAU: which pushed up benchmark contract to its highest since January 1991. But a lack of physical intake kept premiums unchanged at 25 U.S. cents an ounce to the spot London price.
"Gold is still looking relatively strong, but it's caught in the middle of a range between $455 and $475. I think it's going to stay in that broader range for the next few weeks and probably leading into Christmas," said another Singapore dealer.
Premiums were quoted at between 10 and 30 U.S. cents an ounce in Hong Kong, a centre for bullion trading in East Asia, which had seen buying interest at around $460 an ounce. Some dealers felt the rally in platinum group metals would spill into gold, helping it move back to around the $480s.
"Platinum keeps making a new record high and eventually gold will go up. It's a matter of time," said Ronald Leung, director of Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.