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(Kitco News) - Comex February gold futures edged firmer in overnight action, but the market remains in a consolidative range.  A moderate increase in Asian demand was seen for the yellow metal ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday.

Gold traders remain focused on U.S. central banker's comments about the direction of monetary policy. Today, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is slated to speak at 4 p.m. ET at the University of Michigan.

Meanwhile, April platinum futures posted a strong upside breakout above a key resistance zone, and the spread—or price difference between the two metals—continues to narrow. Platinum futures have been gaining strength since the start of the New Year, amid expectations for demand to pick up and amid potential supply side issues. Platinum is gaining strength amid demand for alternative metal assets.

February gold futures see strong support from the Jan. 4 low at $1,626 per ounce. The market has been climbing away from that spike low over the last week and daily momentum is generally supportive.

On the upside for the bulls, initial resistance lies at $1,678, with a more important ceiling at $1,695.40, the Jan. 2 high. If the bulls muster the strength to rally through that latter level this week it will cement a near term bottom on the daily chart and will break the downtrend pattern. That is a key objective for the bulls.

April platinum futures have rocketed higher in pre-market action Monday. Technically, the market blasted through the Dec. 12 swing high at $1,651.50. That was an important barrier for the bulls and the market didn't even hesitate. Traders should watch that level closely as one or two consecutive settlements above $1,651.50 would target a retest of the $1,733 October peak for platinum.

Daily momentum has climbed to overbought levels for platinum, but this market is running strong. During strong trends, markets can remain at overbought readings for days or weeks. The moving average picture is supportive to platinum and trend following traders are likely jumping on board this fast-moving trend. Dips will likely be used as buying opportunities in platinum in the days ahead.

By Kira Brecht, contributing to Kitco News.

Kira Brecht is managing editor at TraderPlanet.

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