July 24, 2018 / 10:33 AM / in 3 months

PRECIOUS-Gold higher on lower dollar ahead of U.S. economic growth data

* U.S. dollar slips

* Market watchers await U.S. GDP on Friday

* Gold shed more than 10 pct since mid-April (Updates prices, headline; adds comment, second byline, NEW YORK to dateline)

By Renita D. Young and Eric Onstad

NEW YORK/LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) - Gold inched higher on Tuesday as the U.S. dollar slipped and market watchers anticipated U.S. economic growth data on Friday.

Spot gold gained 0.13 percent at $1,225.70 per ounce by 1:36 p.m. EDT (1736 GMT), while U.S. gold futures for August delivery settled down 10 cents, or 0.01 percent, at $1,225.50 per ounce.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, fell 0.2 percent after touching a one-year high last week.

“This could also be positioning ahead of the GDP numbers on Friday,” said Josh Graves, senior commodities strategist at RJO Futures.

Market watchers largely expect second-quarter U.S. economic growth to top current forecasts of 4.1 percent. “But if there’s any kind of whiff in those numbers, we could see a spike in gold,” Graves added.

Gold has shed more than 10 percent since touching a peak of $1,365.23 in mid-April, largely hit by a stronger dollar amid U.S. interest rate hikes. Last week it hit a one-year low.

“It’s too early to say that gold has bottomed out, but there are some tentative signs pointing in that direction. This process could take weeks if not months to recover from the losses and the damaged technical picture,” said Carsten Fritsch, commodity analyst at Commerzbank.

On the technical side, gold has broken below the 200-day moving average on a weekly basis.

Gold prices, which usually gain in times of political and financial instability, have failed to do so, analysts noted, with investors’ reaction to the dispute between the United States and Iran staying muted.

“In addition to the U.S. dollar, there has been little follow through on the Trump and Rouhani war of words and frankly the overall reaction on risk sentiment was muted,” said Stephen Innes, APAC trading head at OANDA.

The other precious metals, which have industrial applications, got a boost from higher base metal prices.

Silver rose 0.8 percent at $15.50 per ounce, platinum gained 0.4 percent at $834.10 per ounce, earlier seeing a two-week high of $845.90. Palladium added 0.3 percent at $917 per ounce earlier hitting $927, the strongest in a week.

“Palladium’s strong links to economic growth – with demand mostly coming from the auto sector – makes it more vulnerable to recent macro developments,” UBS strategist Joni Teves said in a note.

“We continue to be positive on palladium from a fundamental perspective, and view recent weakness as an opportunity to build longer-term positions.” (Additional reporting by Karen Rodrigues in Bengaluru Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Nick Zieminski)

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