COMEX gold is set for a minor technical bounce this week, partly to correct last Tuesday's sell-off and partly due to what a few chartists are holding out for as a larger bull market. Active June gold rallied from a low of US$377.50 on March 1 to above the psychological $400 level by the end of that month. But three tries over that barrier failed to produce a close above $400 and gold steadily moved down in late April to early May, capped by a steep $7.90 drop to $384.60 last Tuesday. June gold was up $1 at $385.50 an ounce and some chartists said the market was primed for a bounce. They said gold appeared oversold, was holding a technical floor at previous lows from late March near $384, and left some bullish footprints on the daily candlestick chart. Steve Nison, senior vice-president at Daiwa Securities America, said gold posted a harami cross formation last Wednesday. That happened when gold collapsed last Tuesday, leaving a big black real body where prices opened near the day's session high and closed near the session low. The 'body', the difference between the open and close, was dark because prices closed down on the day. Meanwhile, Gold Fields Mineral Services analyst Philip Klapwijk said investors should be cautious and use their judgment in evaluating data on Chinese gold demand. A report issued by Gold Fields estimates Chinese gold jewellery fabrication at 203.0 tonnes last year, up from 173.1 tonnes in 1993. China's National Price Information Newsletter said early last month, however, that the country's total gold consumption last year was a much higher 800 tonnes. Noting that there had been official estimates of Chinese demand 'in a variety of fora', Mr Klapwijk urged caution in evaluating such data. 'I would hazard a guess that the Chinese official [who issued the 800-tonne figure] has his motives,' he said. In London, consultant group Gold Fields Mineral Services (GFMS) said world gold production fell last year - its first year-on-year drop in almost 20 years. In a keynote report called Gold 1995 - widely viewed by the bullion market as giving the authoritative picture on global supply and demand - London-based GFMS said mine output dropped 0.6 per cent to 2,296 tonnes last year from 2,309 tonnes in 1993. But despite what it described as 'this significant trend change', the gold price this year might be dictated by fluctuations in the dollar and its impact on investment fund sentiment. 'The physical market alone will not significantly move the price. We need to see if the funds will now change their neutral stance in 1995,' GFMS managing director Stewart Murray said. GFMS also said the 175-tonne disposal of gold by the Belgian central bank this year might have partly come on to the market. 'It is possible some of this gold has been sold into the market, which if it has, is a very positive sign,' Mr Murray said. Last month the Belgian central bank said it had made the sale this year from reserves in an operation carried out with another central bank. The GFMS report estimated official gold sales last year at a net 86 tonnes, down from a revised 488 last year and the lowest figure since 1988.