Gold rose on Monday, up from a three-month low hit on Friday as U.S. lawmakers and President Barack Obama remained unable to clinch a deal to reopen the government and avert a looming default.
But the situation has not lifted gold anywhere near the record highs it hit the last time tension emerged over talks to lift the U.S. debt ceiling, in 2011.
"Gold has failed to benefit from the recent risk events and although a catalyst lingers in the form of the looming debt ceiling deadline that could push gold prices higher," said Suki Cooper, precious metals strategist at Barclays Capital.
"Given the negative market sentiment..., prices are likely to resist yet another opportunity," Cooper said.
Spot gold rose 0.4 percent to $1,277.41 an ounce by 3:05 p.m. EDT (1905 GMT). During the session, gold rose as high as $1,288.88 an ounce.
U.S. gold futures for December settled up $8.40 an ounce at $1,276.60, with volume about 40 percent below its 250-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
Some U.S. traders were away as the bond market was shut for the Columbus Day holiday.
On Friday, bullion fell to a three-month low $1,262.14 an ounce, after more than 3 million ounces changed hands on the Comex December futures contract in just 15 minutes, prompting a near $30 drop in prices and a brief trading halt. Gold has not seen much safe-haven bidding over the last two weeks, with parts of the U.S. government shut down. Instead, prices have slid on large sell orders, amplified by technical selling.
Earlier this month, another big trade sent gold lower by $25 an ounce in a short time. This year, the metal has lost nearly a quarter of its value on expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will soon end the stimulus program that had encouraged gold buying among investors concerned about low interest rates and potential inflation.
Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund and a gauge of investor sentiment, fell 5.40 tonnes to 890.98 tonnes on Friday.
Among other precious metals, silver rose 0.6 percent to $21.32 an ounce. Platinum was up 0.9 percent at $1,376.50 an ounce, while palladium inched up 9 cents to $711.59 an ounce.
China's car sales totaled 1.59 million vehicles last month, up 21 percent from the year earlier, Friday's data showed. China's car market favours gasoline-powered engines, which use heavy palladium loadings in their catalysts.
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