March 17, 2017 / 1:11 AM / 6 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold prices hold firm, set for first weekly gain in three

    March 17 (Reuters) - Gold prices held firm on Friday not far
from over one-week highs hit the session before, remaining on
course for their first weekly rise in three.
       
    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold        had edged down 0.1 percent to $1,224.90
per ounce by 0050 GMT. The metal hit $1,233.13, the highest
since March 6 in the previous session.
    * U.S. gold futures         fell 0.2 percent to $1,224.60
    * Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.28 percent to 837.06
tonnes on Thursday from 839.43 tonnes on Wednesday.          
    * The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised U.S. interest
rates for the second time in three months, as expected, but did
not flag any plan to accelerate the pace of monetary tightening
as some investors had anticipated.             
    * The dollar index        was holding near five-week lows
hit in the prior session.
    * Dutch centre-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte fought off
the challenge of anti-Islam and anti-EU rival Geert Wilders to
score an election victory that was hailed across Europe on
Thursday by governments facing a rising wave of nationalism.
            
    * President Donald Trump's first budget outline, calling for
a security-heavy realignment of federal spending, drew
resistance on Thursday from his fellow Republicans in the U.S.
Congress as many balked at proposed deep cuts to diplomatic and
foreign aid programmes.             
    * The Federal Reserve's return to higher interest rates
could lend a hand to beleaguered counterparts in Japan and
Europe and signal the end of a long cycle of monetary stimulus
across Asia, as central banks from Beijing to Ankara to London
reacted on Thursday to the U.S. policy change.             
    * U.S. homebuilding jumped in February as unseasonably warm
weather boosted the construction of single-family houses to near
a 9-1/2-year high, suggesting the economy remained on solid
ground despite an apparent slowdown in the first quarter.
            
    * Barrick Gold Corp         , the world's biggest gold
producer, is exploring options for its Lagunas Norte mine in
Peru, including the sale of part or all of the asset, three
people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.             
         
    DATA AHEAD (GMT)
    
    1000  Euro zone  Eurostat trade                   Jan 
    1315  U.S.       Industrial production            Feb 
    1400  U.S.       Leading index                    Feb 
    1400  U.S.       Univ of Michigan sentiment index Mar 
    G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Presidents meet 

 (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph
Radford)
  

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