Gold fell on profit taking on Wednesday after reaching a record high on economic uncertainties and the downtrend in the dollar, while Asian stocks edged higher as hunger for risk stayed high as the year end approached.
Major European stock futures indicated a higher open, ahead of meeting minutes from the Bank of England and U.S. inflation data, while U.S. stock futures were little changed.
Spot gold rose as high as $1,143.95 per ounce in early Asia trade before falling back below $1,140. The yellow metal has risen about 30 percent so far this year, fueled by dollar weakness and investors' search for assets which could be used to hedge against inflation.
Expectations that the U.S. interest rates will stay at exceptionally low levels for some time have weighed down the dollar and encouraged global investors to look for better returns from riskier trades, such as emerging markets, currencies, commodities and stocks.
It's going to be hard for the dollar to gain further, since it looks like that the U.S. will keep its low interest rate policy for a while, said Tomohiro Nishida, treasury department manager at Chuo Mitsui Trust and Banking Company in Tokyo.
U.S. President Barack Obama meets Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao later in the day on his last day of a visit to China, although his much anticipated meeting with President Hu Jintao on Tuesday failed to produce any visible impact on the markets.
The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> rose 0.3 percent, after touching the highest since July 31, 2008 on Tuesday.
Telecom stocks were the big gainer, up 1.1 percent, while technology and materials sectors also gained.
South Korea's KOSPI was up 1.1 percent at the highest close in three weeks, led by shares of Hyundai Mobis Co <012330.KS> after the company's affiliate Hyundai Motor said it had to dispose of a stake in the car parts maker to meet anti-trust laws.
However, Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> bucked the regional trend, shedding 0.6 percent to end at a 6-week closing low on fears that banks and property firms would dive in to tap equity markets for fresh capital in coming days.
Japan Airlines Corp's <9205.T> stock tumbled nearly 4 percent to its lowest level since the firm's 2002 re-listing after the nation's transport minister declined to rule out a court-led bankruptcy for the troubled airline.
Investor sentiment is pretty bad right now, it seems there is no end to negative factors, said Noritsugu Hirakawa, a strategist at Okasan Securities. We have the strong yen, fund-raising worries, political uncertainty, concern about banks, and JAL.
The ICE Futures U.S. dollar index <.DXY> edged down 0.1 percent to 75.278, after striking a 15-month low of 74.679 on Monday.
The euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.4901, more than a cent below its 2009 high above $1.5000.
U.S. crude futures rose 53 cents to $79.67 a barrel, after settling up 24 cents on Tuesday, after an industry group reported a larger-than-expected drawdown in U.S. crude stocks last week.
(Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko and Elaine Lies in TOKYO; Editing by Kim Coghill)