May 11, 2018 / 6:21 AM / 4 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold eases on firmer dollar; but eyes first weekly gain in four

    * Spot gold up about 0.4 percent for the week
    * Silver, platinum and palladium back off 2-wk highs

 (Updates prices)
    By Apeksha Nair
    BENGALURU, May 11 (Reuters) - Gold prices slipped in
range-bound trading on Friday as the dollar firmed slightly,
with investors mostly brushing off a potential broadening of
conflict in the Middle East. 
    Spot gold        was down 0.1 percent at $1,319.61 per ounce
as of 0656 GMT, after rising to the highest since end-April at
$1,322.76 in the previous session. The metal was, however, still
on track to register a first weekly rise in four. 
    U.S. gold futures         for June delivery were nearly 0.2
percent lower at $1,320.20 per ounce. 
    "I think geopolitical concerns (with respect to recent
attacks on Syria) are still a concern but investors aren't
paying significant attention to these," said Naeem Aslam, chief
markets analyst, Think Markets.
    "The dollar story is more prominent." 
    Israel said it attacked nearly all of Iran's military
infrastructure in Syria on Thursday, after Iranian forces fired
rockets at Israeli-held territory for the first time in the most
extensive military exchange ever between the two adversaries.
            
    Gold is traditionally seen as a safe place to park assets in
times of uncertainty or conflict. 
    Meanwhile, the dollar index        on Friday edged slightly
higher, but still held below a 4-1/2-month high hit on
Wednesday, with tepid U.S. inflation data for April prompting
traders to pare bets of faster rate hikes by the Federal
Reserve.             
    Fed funds futures, however, rose on Thursday, indicating
some traders continued to expect the U.S. central bank to raise
key interest rates at its next policy meeting in June. 
    A stronger dollar makes gold more expensive for holders of
other currencies, while higher U.S. rates tend to boost the
greenback.
    Elsewhere, the Bank of England held its interest rates
steady on Thursday, while European Central Bank Governing
Council member Philip Lane said interest rates are unlikely to
move dramatically in the coming years.                          
    "Obviously we have to be cognizant to dollar risk but
(tensions) in the Middle East doesn't look like it's going to
settle anytime soon so I feel confident buying gold on the
dips," said Stephen Innes, APAC trading head at OANDA said.  
    Asian shares rose on Friday as risk appetite got a boost
after U.S. President Donald Trump said he had hopes of "doing
something very meaningful" to curtail North Korea's nuclear
ambitions at a summit in Singapore next month.             
    Among other precious metals, silver        rose 0.1 percent
to $16.70 an ounce, having hit its highest in more than two
weeks at $16.75 in the previous session. 
    Platinum        fell 0.5 percent at $919 per ounce, having
hit its highest since April 25 at $927.20 on Thursday.
    Palladium        was 0.5 percent lower at $994 an ounce,
having marked a more than two-week high at $1,002.10 in the
previous session.

 (Reporting by Apeksha Nair in BENGALURU; Editing by Tom Hogue
and Subhranshu Sahu)
  
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