Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Bengaluru — Gold tracked back from its highest in over a week on Wednesday after Italy indicated it was open to cutting its budget deficit and debt, soothing investors' nerves and prompting a wider move back into riskier assets.

Spot gold inched 0.1% lower to $1,201.01 an ounce at 12.19pm GMT, having hit its highest since September 21 at $1,208.32 earlier in the session. US gold futures eased 0.2% to $1,204.80.

"The situation is calming down a little bit. It's a little bit of a move into riskier assets in the eurozone that is slightly dampening gold," said Peter Fertig, an analyst at Quantitative Commodity Research.

European shares rose and Italian bonds have rallied as some of the worries that shook markets this week were soothed by signs Rome was amenable to cutting budget deficits and debt in coming years.

Gold can be used as an alternative investment during times of political and financial uncertainty.

"Unless there is a meltdown in Italy or a financial crisis, which would also impact US markets, there is no strong reason for a jump in gold prices. I expect more sideways trading around the present levels with plus or minus around $20," Fertig added.

Gold prices have fallen for the past six months, losing more than 11%, largely due to dollar strength. The US currency has benefited from a vibrant economy, rising US interest rates and fears of a global trade war.

"Gold has come down quite a lot in recent months and does seem to be taking a pause. We still think the dollar is going to be the key driver moving forward for prices," ING analyst Warren Patterson said.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising interest rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding nonyielding bullion. Rising US borrowing costs also lift the dollar, in which gold is priced.

On the technical front, the gold market is "consolidating sideways", Commerzbank analysts said in a weekly note.

"It is not clear whether this is going to be a continuation phase or is in fact a possible base developing. It has started to erode the 55-day moving average and attention is on the four-month downtrend at $1,213.57."

Holdings in the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, fell 0.32% to 23.72-million ounces on Tuesday.

Among other precious metals, silver rose 0.3% to $14.68 an ounce, hovering close to the previous session's $14.91, its highest in more than a month.

Platinum climbed 0.5% to $830.98, while palladium edged 0.1% lower to $1,050.98.