March 29, 2019 / 12:37 PM / 4 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold gains as dollar dips; palladium pares losses

* Gold on course for 2nd straight quarterly rise

* Silver hits lowest since Dec at $14.94/oz

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Updates prices, adds detail and comments)

By Sumita Layek

March 29 (Reuters) - Gold rose on Friday, holding on track for its second quarterly rise as the dollar slipped on weaker-than-expected U.S. consumer spending data, while palladium pared sharp losses from the previous three sessions.

Palladium was on track to end the quarter about 9 percent higher, having surged to an all-time high last week on a sustained supply crunch.

Spot gold was up 0.7 percent at $1,298.80 per ounce by 1349 GMT, testing resistance at the key $1,300 level.

U.S. gold futures were up 0.5 percent on the day, at $1,296.8 an ounce.

Bullion was also set to notch up about a 1.2 percent gain for the quarter, helped mainly by a dovish U.S. Federal Reserve and concerns about the global economy.

The dollar’s pullback on the back of the tepid U.S. data is helping gold, said George Gero, managing director at RBC Wealth Management, adding bullion was likely to hold within the $1,275-$1,325 range in the near term.

The U.S. currency fell against a basket of six other major currencies after the Commerce Department reported that U.S. consumer spending barely rose in January.

However, gold was still bound for a second consecutive monthly drop, losing about 1 percent, which would be its biggest decline since August last year. The metal fell by about 1.5 percent on Thursday, the most in more than seven months. “The gold bulls still have the overall near-term technical advantage but have faded badly this week, and they need to show fresh power soon to avoid more serious chart damage,” Jim Wyckoff, senior analyst at Kitco Metals, said in a note.

Meanwhile, spot palladium rose from two-month lows touched in the last session, gaining about 2.5 percent to $1,382.45 an ounce.

“It’s just some buyers coming in and thinking that these prices are of fair value and this is the opportunity to come into the market,” said Philip Newman, a director at Metals Focus.

“They might have thought the declines yesterday were overdone and now is a good time to come in and build some positions modestly.”

The metal, used to make catalytic converters for vehicle exhaust systems, had soared since last year on a sustained deficit.

The run stalled this week, with the metal sliding the most since January 2017 on Thursday, which analysts attributed to a possible drop in demand due to a weaker global economy.

Silver was up 1.1 percent at $15.17 an ounce, after hitting its lowest since late December at $14.94, while platinum rose about 1.9 percent to $853.04.

Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Dale Hudson and Jan Harvey

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