Gold edged lower on Friday as some buyers cashed in recent gains, but the metal remained on track for its biggest weekly rise in two months as the dollar retreated and sliding oil prices hurt risk appetite, weighing on stocks.
Gold is up 2.4 percent so far this week. Falling stock markets have prompted some investors to buy the metal as an alternative asset, while a drop in the greenback made dollar-priced bullion cheaper for holders of other currencies.
“When the equity markets dropped quite sharply, precious metals soared, so there is definitely still the link between equities and gold in particular (due to) risk appetite among market players,” Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann said.
“Some of the equity markets had a decent run this year. We don’t expect this to be continued to the same extent next year, so this might give some tailwind to gold prices.”
Spot gold was down 0.6 percent at $1,220.20 an ounce by 1459 GMT, while U.S. gold futures for December delivery fell $4.70 to $1,220.90.
The dollar index was down 0.5 percent and European stocks slid another 1.4 percent, with further declines in the price of oil hitting energy stocks and political concerns over Greece also curbing risk appetite.
European stocks are on course for their biggest weekly loss since May 2012, while U.S. stocks also opened lower, putting the benchmark S&P 500 on track to snap seven weeks of gains.
Benchmark Brent crude oil futures fell nearly 2 percent to below $63 a barrel, the lowest since July 2009. Brent is down 8 percent this week, and 45 percent below its June peak.
The improved sentiment towards gold was seen in the holdings of the world’s top bullion-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, which rose 0.13 percent to 725.75 tonnes on Thursday, up nearly 5 tonnes this week.
That marks a second straight week of inflows, and the biggest weekly increase in its holdings since early July.
“The longer gold holds above $1,200, the more it may attract fresh buying and gold ETFs may begin to build,” HSBC analysts said in a note.
Among other precious metals, silver was flat at $17.08 an ounce, while spot platinum was down 0.7 percent at $1,229.90 an ounce. Spot palladium was down 0.4 percent at $813 an ounce. (Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by Michael Urquhart and Dale Hudson)