gold technicals from the wires..

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    GOLD 336.00/6.75 * 320.00 * 350.00 * 88 * 328.68 * 322.36

    SILVER 4.69/4.71 * 4.50 * 4.85 * 77 * 4.65 * 4.55

    PLAT 604.60/9.60 * 595.00 * 620.00 * 75 * 597.59 * 591.00

    ----------------- VIEWS FROM THE MARKET - Dec 17 --------------

    LONDON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Gold hit its firmest level in

    5-1/2 years in European trade on Tuesday, fuelled by prospects

    of war with Iraq, a weak dollar and a rising oil price which

    sent funds scrambling into the safe-haven metal, traders said.

    By breaking through long term resistance at $340 an ounce,

    the safe-haven metal now had $350-plus in its sights though

    relative strength indices (RSI) suggested that the metal was due

    for consolidation before further gains were possible.

    GOLD - Spot gold opened at $341.00/341.75 an ounce in

    Europe, its firmest opening since June, 1997 and up from

    Monday's New York closing level of $336.00/336.75 an ounce.

    The yellow metal hit $345.75 an ounce in Asia trading,

    according to Reuters graphics, its firmest since May 1997.

    "The conditions continue to look ripe for the global

    insecurity trade in commodities to re-emerge," said Barclays

    Capital in a market note.

    Fears of a U.S.-led attack on Iraq and North Korea's

    reactivation of a nuclear programme have sent investors darting

    to gold as an insurance policy in troubled times.

    The U.S. said on Monday it expected to deliver a final

    verdict late this week on Iraq's weapons declaration after

    warning the dossier was flawed and that Baghdad had no more

    chances to come clean.

    Gold was now well placed to extend its gains to the

    $355.00/357.00 zone, said Saxo Bank in a report.

    The dollar remained depressed near day's lows versus euro

    and yen with sentiment undermined by growing fears

    of war against Iraq. The euro was last quoted at $1.0279/84, up

    from $1.0222/27.

    Oil prices , which together with gold is branded as

    a "war commodity", steadied close to 10-week highs as

    Venezuela's strike, now in its third week, cut supplies from the

    world's fifth largest exporter.

    But on a technical basis further bullion price gains were

    not guaranteed given that gold had a 14-day RSI of 88, analysts


    "The continued erosion of the U.S. dollar and the rampant

    oil price is certainly providing major support to the market at

    present, but with the 30-day RSI looking overbought, the market

    may well encounter a bout of profit taking with a retracement

    back to $335.00 a possibility," said Standard Bank London.

    By 0730 GMT spot gold was quoted at $340.75/341.25.

    SILVER - Silver was seen taking its cue from gold.

    At 0730 GMT spot silver was quoted at $4.74/4.76 an ounce,

    up from New York's Monday close of $4.69/4.71.

    "$4.85 still remains the upside target in the near term, but

    a break of $4.62 will almost certainly attract a barrage of fund

    liquidation," said Standard Bank London.

    PLATINUM - At 0730 GMT spot platinum was quoted at

    $605.00/610.00, up from $604.60/609.60.
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