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Gold edges higher as Asian stocks retreat, oil extends rout

Jan 20 (Reuters) – Gold edged higher on Wednesday as a further fall in equities and oil burnished bullion’s safe-haven draw, although slow physical demand from Asia kept the metal well under this month’s peak.

Front-month U.S. crude futures dropped to an intra-day low of $27.92 a barrel earlier today, the lowest since September 2003, underlining worries about the global economy. Asian shares slipped as well.

The International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecasts for the third time in less than a year after China’s economy grew at its slowest rate in a quarter of a century in 2015.

Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,091.06 an ounce by 0223 GMT.

U.S. gold for February delivery gained 0.2 percent at $1,091.10 an ounce.

"Gold’s safe haven rationale is back in vogue," Citigroup analysts said in their 2016 commodities outlook, amid fears over the Chinese economy, weak equity markets and geopolitical tensions in the Arabian Gulf.

"While geopolitical issues typically tend to be short-lived in terms of lending support to gold prices, we expect ongoing global macro concerns to lend support this quarter, added by a modestly more benign U.S. dollar outlook," they said.

Gold scaled a two-month high of $1,112 an ounce on Jan. 8 and has traded below that level since, facing resistance at around $1,090 that some analysts attribute to slow Asian physical buying.

Demand for gold in China, the world’s biggest consumer, is seen dented by an economy that could slow further. Nomura expects the world’s second-largest economy to grow at 5.8 percent this year against 6.9 percent in 2015.

There is a modest premium to world gold prices in China, and prices in India, the second-largest gold consumer, are at a discount to the global benchmark, wrote HSBC analyst James Steel.

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But Steel said the ability of gold to cut the bulk of losses, persistent risk-off sentiment and a revival in the euro suggest further price gains.

"The $1,100/oz is a stiff resistance level, however, and while we believe it will be overcome, it may take some time," he said.

Spot silver was flat at $14.02 an ounce and palladium slipped 0.3 percent to $490.15. Platinum, which touched a seven-year low of $812.95 an ounce on Monday, was up 0.3 percent at $825.80.

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