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Gold edges up, underpinned by spreading Libya unrest

Gold edges up, underpinned by spreading Libya unrest

SINGAPORE | Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:09pm EST

(Reuters) - Spot gold edged up on Thursday, as spreading turmoil in Libya and soaring oil prices stoked worry of slower economic growth and continued to drive investors seeking safe-haven to bullion.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold edged up 0.1 percent at $1,413.35 an ounce by 1:37 a.m. ET on Thursday, after hitting a seven-week high of $1,416.30 in the previous session.

* The most-active U.S. gold futures contract was steady at $1,413.9.

* U.S. crude oil futures rose more than $1 on mounting fears that growing unrest in Libya could spread to other oil producers in the Middle East and North Africa. The turmoil in Libya continued as thousands of Libyans celebrated the liberation of their country's east from the rule of Muammar Gaddafi, who has vowed to crush the revolt. The rising fear of tribal conflicts and civil war sent oil prices to their highest since August 2008.

* Spot silver inched up 0.2 percent at $33.59.

* Holdings in the world's largest silver-backed exchange-traded fund, iShares Silver Trust, rose to one-month high of 10,575.23 tonnes by Feb 23.

* Strong industrial and investment demand, coupled with mining companies' need to borrow the metal for hedge programs have led to a squeeze in physical silver market recently, but there was no cause for concern about supply shortages, said metals consultancy GFMS.

MARKET NEWS

* The dollar index .DXY edged down to a three-week low on Thursday, as the safe-haven demand triggered by the crisis in Libya drove investors to the Swiss franc while the greenback appeared to lose its luster.

* U.S. stocks dropped for a second straight session on Wednesday as Libya's violence sent oil prices up briefly to $100 a barrel and tech shares sank, adding credence to calls for a market correction. .N

* The U.S. crude front-month contract for April delivery was trading at $99.10 by 2354 GMT, up $1 from the previous session. In London ICE Brent for April delivery settled at $111.25 a barrel in the previous session, the highest close since August 29, 2008 for front-month Brent crude, when prices ended at $114.05.

(Reporting By Rujun Shen)