(Reuters) - Gold regained some ground Wednesday as jewellers in Asia snapped up the metal after prices dropped 2 percent in the previous session, but investors were cautious because of lingering fears about a possible Greek default.
Worries that Greece may not secure a deal with private creditors to cut its debt by the Thursday deadline spurred selling in shares, but pressure from the equity market was offset by a bounce in the euro and physical gold offtake.
Spot gold added $2.92 to $1,676.86 per ounce by 0240 GMT, having hit a low of $1,663.95 on Tuesday, the weakest since Jan. 25. Bullion struck a record around $1,920 per ounce last September.
Basically gold and other risky assets are all being lumped together. Nobody is really looking at individual fundamentals. They are just buying the dollar and pretty much selling everything else, said Nick Trevethan, a senior commodity strategist at ANZ in Singapore. The markets are very worried about risk, and for the time being, gold has been painted as a risk asset. The downside potential for gold is $1,650-$1,660. I am not sure if it's going to happen today as we are starting to see decent physical buying at these lower numbers.
U.S. gold for April delivery rose 0.33 percent to $1,677.70 per ounce.
Shares in Asia slipped for a third consecutive session on Wednesday as investors grew more risk averse, with uncertainty over Greece's bailout and mounting worries about slowing global economies overshadowing support provided by ample liquidity.
The euro stood at $1.3112, having struck a three-week low at $1.3101. A clutch of Greek pension funds and some foreign investors are still holding back on the bond swap deal, prompting Athens to warn that it will force losses on those who do not sign up.
There's bargain-buying. Jewellery makers are still buying, but they are not that aggressive. Premiums for gold bars are now at $1 to $1.50 because of the purchases, said a dealer in Hong Kong, who offered gold bars at around $1 last week.
I think the market is waiting for U.S. non-farm payroll data for clues on whether the United States will launch QE3, said the dealer, referring to a possible third bond-buying programme to lower interest rates.
But the U.S. economy likely recorded a third month of solid job gains in February, which could further reduce the chances of additional monetary stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The Labor Department is due to release the February employment report on Friday at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT)
In Singapore, physical dealers also noted buying from jewellers in the region.
Indonesia continues to buy gold in small volumes and we saw good buying from the Far East last night, said a dealer in Singapore, who offered bullion at premiums of 70 cents to $1 to London prices.
In the energy market, U.S. crude oil futures were steady in post-settlement trading after news that major powers had accepted Iran's offer for talks about its disputed nuclear programme, easing concern about supply disruptions.
(Editing by Chris Lewis)