Gold prices off lows but gains capped

Gold prices pushed higher on Wednesday after posting the largest one day drop since December in the previous session, but gains were checked amid concerns over weakening demand from top buyer China.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for June delivery were last up 0.26% to $1,303.70. On Tuesday, the June gold contract fell 2.05% to close at $1,300.30, the steepest decline since December 19.

Gold’s losses came after data on Tuesday showed that U.S. inflation accelerated in March, prompting investors to bring forward expectations for a rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

Official data on Wednesday showed that China’s economy grew at the slowest rate in 18 months, fuelling concerns over the outlook for gold demand.

China’s gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 7.4% in the first three months of 2014, slowing from 7.7% in the fourth quarter.

A separate report on Chinese retail sales showed that jewelry sales fell 6% in March, the first monthly decline in at least two years.

The data came one day after a report released by the World Gold Council said that Chinese gold demand is likely to remain flat this year, as a result of the country's economic slowdown and constrained credit markets.

Demand for the precious metal continued to be underpinned amid escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine as Ukrainian troops recaptured state buildings from armed pro-Russia separatists in the east of the country. Russia's President Vladimir Putin has warned that Ukraine is on the verge of civil war.

Gold, seen as a safe haven investment, usually benefits from economic and geopolitical turmoil.

Elsewhere, in metals trading, silver for May delivery was up 0.48% to $19.583 a troy ounce, while copper for May delivery was up 0.33% to $2.997 a pound.