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Gold edged higher on Tuesday, paring losses from the previous session, with investors awaiting a key German ruling on the euro zone's bailout fund and a U.S. Federal Reserve decision on possible measures to stimulate the economy.
Gold has rallied nearly 7 percent over the past month on the European Central Bank's bond-buying plan and expectations that the Fed would launch another round of quantitative easing, or QE3, at this week's meeting of its policy-setting wing.
Easy monetary policy benefits gold, which attracts investors worried about potential inflation risks associated with cash printing by central banks.
The chances of a QE3 announcement this week have jumped after disappointing U.S. employment data, which pushed up spot gold on Friday to above $1,740 for the first time since the end of February.
"Investors have become very enthusiastic about gold, as well as silver judging by ETF holdings and COMEX positions," said Li Ning, an analyst at Shanghai CIFCO Futures. "Gold may continue to fluctuate at these elevated levels, with $1,700 providing short-term support."
Holdings of gold-backed exchange-traded funds rose to an all-time high of 72.492 million ounces on Monday.
Spot gold had gained 0.2 percent to $1,727.91 per ounce by 0630 GMT, after dropping 0.6 percent on Monday.
U.S. gold was little changed at $1,730.40.
Speculators raised their net long positions in U.S. gold futures and options to the highest level in more than six months in the week ended September 4, while silver net length had risen for six straight weeks.
Technical analysis suggested that spot gold faces resistance at $1,739 and may retrace to $1,711 during the day, Reuters market analyst Wang Tao said.
A German constitutional court will rule on Wednesday whether Germany can contribute to the European rescue fund, which plays a crucial role in the European Central Bank's plan to fight the region's debt crisis.
Scrap continued to flow into Asia's physical gold market as prices remained buoyed by market expectations for more stimulus measures.
"There is a lot of scrap and even some buying as some expect prices to go higher," said a Singapore-based dealer, adding that the premium on gold bars in Singapore stood at 20 to 40 cents per ounce above London spot prices.
Platinum group metals also firmed, after hitting multi-month highs in the previous session, supported by ongoing labor problems in South Africa's mining sector and decent China auto sales data.
Spot palladium edged up 0.2 percent to $664.47, after hitting a four-month high of $670.50 on Monday. Spot platinum also gained 0.2 percent, to $1,591.75, retreating from a five-month high of $1,603.50 hit in the previous session.
In industry news, China, the world's top gold producer, churned out 31.3 metric tons of the precious metal in July, bringing total output in the first seven months of the year to 208 tons, up 7 percent year on year.
By Rujun Shen