Gold has edged below $US1,400 an ounce as a delay in possible US military action in Syria and improved economic conditions from China and Europe boosted the appetite for riskier assets, reducing its appeal as a safe haven.

But silver gained as much as 3.8 per cent earlier, benefiting from data showing China's manufacturing sector in August had its best performance for more than a year, before closing lower.

"There is a link between the gains in silver and the growth number in China, which is an important market for the metal," Credit Suisse commodity analyst Karim Cherif said.

"And there seems to be a bit more appetite from investors for silver than gold but it is really hard to see it maintaining these gains if gold remains depressed by easing concerns over Syria."

Spot gold was down 0.3 per cent at $US1,391.51 an ounce by 1543 GMT (0143 Tuesday AEST) after falling to a one-week low of $US1,374.10 earlier. Prices were on track for a third day of declines.

Volumes remained thin as the US markets are closed for the Labor Day holiday.

Gold futures for December delivery closed $US16.80 lower at $US1,396.1.

US President Barack Obama said he would seek congressional authorisation for punitive military action against Syria, almost certainly delaying any strike until Washington's summer recess ends on September 9.

European shares rose sharply after strong euro zone data showed factory activity rose at its fastest pace in over two years, while oil prices firmed after a slow start.

Silver for December delivery closed 62 US cents lower at $US23.513.

 

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