(Reuters) - Gold ticked lower Monday after earlier rising to its highest in more than seven weeks as investors awaited the outcome of Greece's debt deal talks, but sentiment was supported by a firmer euro and lower-than-expected U.S. growth data.

Spot gold hit a high of $1,739 an ounce, its strongest since Dec. 8, and was at $1,734.65 an ounce by 0022 GMT, down $2.55.

The world's biggest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, was bullish on bullion as a hedge against inflation as governments print more money to reduce debt.

EU leaders will sign off on a permanent rescue fund for the euro zone at a summit on Monday and are expected to agree on a balanced budget rule in national legislation, with unresolved problems in Greece casting a shadow on the discussions.

The U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in 1- years in the fourth quarter. But it fell short of economists' forecast, fueling worries about U.S. growth in 2012 and bets that the Federal Reserve would need to provide more help.

U.S. gold rose 0.17 percent to $1,735.20 an ounce.

The euro hovered at six-week highs against the dollar on Monday, but faced a subdued session in Asia as investors awaited confirmation that Greece has secured a long-awaited debt deal that will help it avert a messy default.

Japan's Nikkei share average slipped in early trade on Monday, weighed down by disappointing corporate earnings results, while U.S. fourth-quarter economic growth was weaker than expected though it grew at its fastest pace in 1- years.

(Reporting by Lewa Pardomuan; Editing by Himani Sarkar)