Bullion was supported after a report showed existing U.S. home sales fell more than expected to an 18-month low in January, the latest metric to indicate softness, though many analysts attributed the weakness to weather instead of worsening fundamentals.
The yellow metal rallied to a 3-1/2 month high earlier this week after a series of disappointing U.S. economic indicators including weak manufacturing data sparked speculation that the Federal Reserve would slow the tapering of its bond purchases.
Miguel Perez-Santalla, vice president at online precious metals market BullionVault, said the metal`s ability to hold above key technical support at USD 1,200 an ounce earlier this year rekindled fund interest to buy gold.
“I believe that the large investment firms have rebalanced their portfolios to include gold. And that is a main factor sustaining gold and may drive prices up into the future,” said Perez-Santalla.
Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at USD 1,327.56 an ounce by 2:33 p.m. EST (1933 GMT).
U.S. COMEX gold futures for April delivery settled up USD 6.70 an ounce at USD 1,323.60, with trading volume about 40 percent below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
On Tuesday, the metal hit USD 1,332.10, its highest since October, lifted by follow-up demand after gold posted a more than 4 percent gain last week.
The world`s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Shares, notched its first weekly outflow in four weeks, of 5.6 tonnes.
ASIAN DEMAND WILTS
Buying in Asia, a major demand center for physical gold, remained light. Dealers saw purchases in the physical market this week, but many jewellers could be waiting for a correction.
“I think (the price) is a little bit too high for Asians to buy gold, because we`ve been below USD 1,300 for a long time and people bought a lot,” Yuichi Ikemizu, branch manager for Standard Bank in Tokyo, said.
Among other metals, silver gained 0.4 percent to USD 21.88 an ounce. Palladium was up 1.1 percent at USD 1,426.24 an ounce, while platinum rose 0.8 percent to USD 739.50 an ounce.
Dealers said a violent attack in the turbulent, strike-hit platinum mining belt in South Africa lifted prices. A miner was killed by group of men at mine belonging to Anglo American Platinum , police said on Friday.