LONDON Gold inched higher after a low start on Wednesday, but a stronger dollar and a rebound in stock markets capped the upside, reducing its appeal as a safe asset.
Asian shares made their first real rally of the year after better than expected Chinese trade data, which offered some rare optimism for the global economy.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 rose 1.3 percent after four declining sessions, making gold less attractive.
Spot gold XAU= was up 0.1 percent at $1,087.01 an ounce by 1510 GMT, while U.S. gold futures GCcv1 rose 0.2 percent to $1,086.90.
"There is a tendency for gold prices to rise in the first few weeks of the year," said analyst Georgette Boele at ABN Amro.
"But pressure will come back ... and when wider markets get sold, you'd better buy the dollar, which is much more liquid than gold."
Gold rallied to a nine-week top of $1,112 last week, but expectations of further U.S. interest rate increases lowered demand for the non-interest-paying metal while boosting the dollar.
"The pause in the gold's rally underlines the difficulty gold has in rallying when there is expectation of Fed rate hikes, even if other news is supportive," Macquarie analyst Matthew Turner said.
"People still think the dollar and rates are going up and therefore the medium-term case is bearish."
The Federal Reserve raised rates in December and attention has shifted to how many increases will follow in 2016.
The dollar and risk-sensitive currencies recovered ground against the yen and the euro after China's central bank held the yuan steady and better than expected Chinese trade data helped to reduce some of the bearishness toward the world's second-largest economy. [FRX/]
But with Chinese economic growth slowing and its stock markets still vulnerable, analysts see it as unlikely that gold will lose too much ground.
"It doesn't mean it's all over; the market is pretty short and a lot of the uncertainty about the global economy has not been resolved," Macquarie's Turner said.
Holdings of the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, New York-listed SPDR Gold Shares, rose 2.1 tonnes on Monday, data from the fund showed.
China launched interbank gold trading at the beginning of this year as part of a broader drive to open up the country's bullion market and increase financial investment in the world's largest consumer of the precious metal.
Among other precious metals, palladium XPD= rose 5 percent to $494.30 an ounce after sliding to a 5-1/2-year low of $449.55 on Tuesday.
Silver XAG= gained 2 percent to $14.07 an ounce, while platinum XPT= was up 1.8 percent at $847.32.
(Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in SINGAPORE; Editing by Jason Neely and Katharine Houreld)
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