Gold and silver exchange traded funds have meandered in a relatively narrow range in recent weeks but are looking for direction on the outcome of the confidence vote in Greece and any hints from the Federal Reserve this week on “quantitative easing.”

The precious metals ETFs were higher in midday trading Tuesday. In Greece, Prime Minister George Papandreou faces a confidence vote as the government tries to push through austerity measures in the debt-strapped country.

Greece defaulting on its debt would have potentially huge implications for European banks and global credit markets.

Also this week, markets will get the Fed statement on Wednesday. The central bank’s bond buying program ends this month. At Wednesday’s press conference, Fed chief Ben Bernanke will likely be hounded about the chances of a third round of quantitative easing, or QE3, or under what economic conditions the Fed would intervene again.

Gold prices are hovering near record levels around $1,540 an ounce “as Greek political instability and European jousting over a new financial package for Greece continued through the weekend,” ETF Securities says in a weekly report on the precious metals market.

“The Greek prime minister reshuffled his cabinet and called for a vote of confidence as political opponents and street protests challenged further austerity measures,” Daniel Will and Nicholas Brooks at ETF Securities wrote in the report. “Meanwhile, Europe continues to play hard ball, delaying a decision on a new financial package until it is clear Greece will honor its reform obligations.”

ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares (NYSEArca: SGOL)

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