PRECIOUS-Gold hovers around $1,700/oz, US fiscal talks eyed

Reuters Middle East

* U.S. lawmakers inch towards deal on "fiscal cliff"

* Range-trapped gold price dampens physical buying interest

* Spot gold could rise to $1,711/oz -technicals

* Coming up: US NAHB Index, Dec; 1500 GMT

(Adds details; updates prices)

By Rujun Shen

SINGAPORE, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Gold hovered around a key

resistance at $1,700 an ounce on Tuesday as many investors stood

on the sidelines in the penultimate week of the year, watching

U.S. lawmakers inch towards a deal to avert a fiscal disaster.

In a fresh offer to resolve the standoff on talks on the

"fiscal cliff" - $600 billion worth of tax hikes and spending

cuts to kick off in the new year, President Barack Obama is

seeking $1.2 trillion from higher tax revenues and is willing to

agree to $1.22 trillion in spending cuts.

Analysts expect a resolution to the problem to take some

safe-haven appeal off gold, though failure to reach a deal would

trigger a broad sell-off in financial markets on fear of another

recession, which could drag gold down.

But the backdrop of easy monetary policy from the U.S.

Federal Reserve and other central banks should provide support,

as investors worried about currency debasement and rising

inflation flee to hard assets including gold.

"The $1,700 level is key resistance, but there isn't much

room on the downside as investors remain confident in gold's

outlook," said Li Ning, an analyst at Shanghai CIFCO Futures.

Li said that stable holdings in gold-backed exchange-traded

funds showed investor interest remained.

Hopes for a resolution to the U.S. budget tussle lifted

Asian shares and other riskier assets, while the dollar index

languished near a near two-month low hit in the previous

session. A weaker greenback underpins the sentiment in

dollar-priced commodities by making them cheaper for buyers

holding other currencies.

Spot gold inched up 0.3 percent to $1,702.04 an ounce

by 0632 GMT. U.S. gold gained 0.3 percent to $1,703.60.

Technical charts suggest spot gold may rise to resistance at

$1,711 per ounce, a break above which would open the way towards

$1,717, Reuters market analyst Wang Tao said.

Asia's bullion buyers were also reluctant to jump into the

market as prices have been stuck in a narrow range in the past

few days.

"There is some light buying but it is not on the same level

as what we saw last year or in the year before," said a

Singapore-based dealer, adding that many market participants

have already gone on holiday.

Precious metals prices 0632 GMT

Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume

Spot Gold 1702.04 4.39 +0.26 8.84

Spot Silver 32.39 0.13 +0.40 16.97

Spot Platinum 1611.49 9.00 +0.56 15.68

Spot Palladium 699.25 2.78 +0.40 7.16

COMEX GOLD FEB3 1703.60 5.40 +0.32 8.73 13482

COMEX SILVER MAR3 32.46 0.17 +0.54 16.26 3982

Euro/Dollar 1.3170

Dollar/Yen 83.98

COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months

(Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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