* China's factory data prompts talk of stimulus there
* US gold volume set for fresh 2012 low
* Tight range seen continuing until clarity on cenbank
* Coming up: U.S. import/export prices
(Adds details, comments, updates market activity)
By Frank Tang
NEW YORK, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Gold rose in very thin trade on
Thursday as slowing growth in China's factory output mildly
boosted investor hopes for more monetary stimulus from one of
the world's top economic engines, which could boost demand for
China's factory activity slowed unexpectedly in July to its
weakest in more than three years, leaving room for more stimulus
to meet China's annual 7.5 percent growth target.
Volume in U.S. gold futures looked set to notch its lowest
daily level of 2012 due to uncertainty about any monetary action
the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank may take.
Investor doubts on economic stimulus can be reflected by an
extremely narrow $15 range this week between $1,602 and $1,617
"Without any news from central bankers this week, traders
are not entering new positions, waiting for the next dose of
news from either the ECB or the Fed," said Jeffrey Sherman,
commodities portfolio manager at DoubleLine Capital LP.
"Gold is likely to stay in this trading range until we
receive more definitive statements," said Sherman, whose firm
has over $40 billion assets under management.
Spot gold inched up 0.3 percent at $1,616.66 an ounce
by 3:01 p.m. EDT (1901 GMT).
U.S. COMEX gold futures for December delivery settled
up $4.20 an ounce at $1,620.20.
COMEX volume was less than 70,000 lots by 3 p.m.,
preliminary Reuters showed. That was about 60 percent below its
30-day average and on track for a 2012 low.
"You are going to need big volume to get the metal moving.
The path of least resistance to the upside is going to need
those stimulus measures to come true," said Phillip Streible,
senior commodities broker at futures brokerage R.J. O'Brien.
CHINA, CENBANK MEETING EYED
A fall in Chinese consumer inflation to a 30-month low in
July suggested the country's central bank could follow up rate
cuts in June and July to boost the economy.
Investors looking for quantitative easing (QE) -- increasing
money supply by buying government bonds to keep interest rates
low -- were frustrated when data showed the number of Americans
filing new claims for jobless benefits fell unexpectedly last
week, while the trade deficit in June dropped to the smallest in
Bullion investors appeared to be on the sidelines waiting
for possible hints from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and other
central bankers meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Aug. 31.
Sean McGillivray, head of asset allocation at Great Pacific
Wealth Management, said gold could resume its rally if global
central banks unveil a coordinated, sizable monetary stimulus.
Among other precious metals, silver gained 0.4
percent to $28.09 an ounce, while spot platinum climbed
0.3 percent to $1,408.99 an ounce and spot palladium was
up 20 cents at $582.10 an ounce.
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