Gold prices eased in Asia on Monday on profit taking, but remain well supported on prospects for volatility linked to events in the Middle East and Russia.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for December delivery eased to $1,309.70 a troy ounce, down 0.10%, after settling last week at $1,311.00 by close of trade, down 0.11%, or $1.50.

Last week, gold futures rallied to a three-week high before ending modestly lower as investors continued to monitor geopolitical developments in Ukraine and Iraq and the broad Middle East.

Appetite for safe haven assets weakened Friday after news reports that Russia ended military exercises on the Ukrainian border, easing concerns that an invasion could take place.

NATO warned earlier in the week that Russia massed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine's border in preparation for a possible ground invasion.

Gold rallied to a three-week high in early trade after U.S. President Barack Obama authorized air strikes in Iraq to halt a Sunni insurgency there and to protect Iraqi civilians from the uprising as well as U.S. personnel in the country.

Elsewhere, Israel said Hamas had violated a 72-hour cease-fire and ordered the military to resume fire in the Gaza Strip on Friday.

Gold is often seen as a haven investment in times of geopolitical uncertainty.

In the week ahead, investors will be continuing to monitor geopolitical risk, while preliminary data on second quarter growth from the euro zone will be closely watched.

Markets watchers will also be looking ahead to U.S. report on July retail sales for further clues about the U.S. economy and the timing of future interest rate hikes.

Silver for September delivery fell 0.42% to $19.858 A troy ounce. Copper for September rose 0.27% to $3.189 a pound by close of trade.

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