Gold bars are displayed at a gold jewellery shop in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh May 8, 2012. REUTERS

Gold hovered near a five-month peak on Monday, supported by hopes for more stimulus measures after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a grave assessment of the economy last week.

Bernanke left the door wide open to a further easing of monetary policy but gave few hints on any imminent action. Gold benefits from loose monetary policy, as rampant cash printing boosts inflation outlook and drives investors to gold, seen as a good hedge against rising prices.

Gold bugs have in recent weeks pinning hopes on another round of quantitative easing from the Fed, also known as QE3, and pushed gold up nearly 5 percent over the past two weeks.

"Central banks are still hurtling towards more cash-printing, as they are under pressure to be doing something actively, which is good for gold," said a Hong Kong-based trader.

Speculators raised their net long positions in U.S. gold futures and options to the highest level in more than five months in the week ended August 28, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,689.14 an ounce by 0256 GMT, holding near a five-month high of $1,692.71 hit on Friday.

U.S. gold was up 0.2 percent to $1,691.70.

Investors will watch a series of key events in the coming weeks that could dictate the sentiment in the market, including a European Central Bank policy meeting this week, the gathering of the Fed's policy-making wing and the German court's ruling on the euro zone's rescue fund next week.

"Gold, being extremely sensitive to wordings such as 'QE' and 'easing', is likely to march higher in the short term after Bernanke acknowledged the weakness in the U.S. economy and effectiveness of past easing moves," said Li Ning, an analyst at Shanghai CIFCO Futures.

China's official factory purchasing managers' index fell to a lower-than-expected 49.2 in August from 50.1 in July, official data showed on Saturday, a result that is likely to strengthen the case for further policy steps to bolster growth.

Talks to end a deadly strike at the South African mining operations of world No. 3 platinum producer Lonmin resume on Monday after weekend funerals for over 30 workers killed by police.

Spot platinum gained 0.7 percent to $1,539.24 an ounce, after losing 0.8 percent last week following two weeks of strong gains.