December 21, 2018 / 11:40 AM / 3 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold steadies near 6-month peak on global economic growth concerns

(Updates prices, adds fresh comments)

* Gold up about 1.8 percent so far this week

* Platinum on track for first weekly gain in 7

* Palladium set to post its fourth weekly gain

* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

By Swati Verma

BENGALURU, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Gold steadied on Friday near the previous session’s six-month high as volatility in equity markets and concerns about global growth kept interest in the safe-haven assets firm.

Spot gold was flat at $1,259.37 per ounce at 1412 GMT, after jumping 1.3 percent in the previous session to hit its highest since June 26 at $1,266.40.

U.S. gold futures fell 0.4 percent to $1,263.50 per ounce. “The risk-off environment and expectations for a slowdown next year should be supportive for gold,” said Craig Erlam, an analyst at OANDA, adding that a bounce in the U.S. dollar had taken the edge off gold’s recent rally.

Gold has risen about 1.8 percent so far this week. The metal, which draws investors during times of political, economic and financial uncertainty, is headed for its best quarter since March 2017, up 5.7 percent.

“Falling stock markets and higher market volatility appear to be key to whether gold can extend its rally,” Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar said in a note.

Gold is trading above its 200-day moving average of around $1,252 an ounce, which analysts said was a bullish signal.

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s commitment to retain the core of its plan to tighten monetary policy has rattled stock markets and has put pressure on the dollar recently, making bullion more attractive.

Although the dollar gained about 0.4 percent against a currency basket on Friday, it fell to its lowest in a month in the previous session.

Holdings of the SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, slipped 0.3 percent on Thursday, having hit their highest in four months earlier this week.

Elsewhere, palladium fell 2.1 percent to $1,238.33 per ounce, but was up for the week in what would be its fourth consecutive weekly gain.

Silver slid 0.2 percent to $14.73 per ounce, but has gained about 1 percent so far in the week.

Platinum fell 0.6 percent to $788.50 per ounce, but was headed for a weekly gain for the first time in seven. (Reporting by Swati Verma in Bengaluru Editing by Jan Harvey and Edmund Blair)

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