December 28, 2018 / 10:45 AM / 3 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold steady near 6-month high on global economic worries, stock volatility

(Updates prices)

* Gold has gained 1.6 pct so far this week

* Palladium up about 3 pct so far this week

* Silver hits 5-month high, heads for best week since August 2017

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

By Sethuraman N R

BENGALURU, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady near a six-month peak scaled on Friday, supported by a weaker dollar, worries over global economic growth and stock market tumult, propelling bullion to a second week of gains.

Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,277.09 per ounce by 1330 GMT, and up 1.6 percent so far this week.

Earlier it had peaked at $1,282.09, its highest since June 19. U.S. gold futures were down 0.1 percent at $1,279.70 per ounce.

“Gold prices rose as market sentiment soured anew, weighing on bond yields and cooling U.S. Federal Reserve rate hike bets. That buoyed the appeal of non-interest-bearing bullion,” said Ilya Spivak, a currency Strategist at DailyFx.

“From here, follow-through buying seems unlikely as traders withhold conviction ahead of the long weekend and New Year holiday liquidity drain.”

The dollar index, a gauge of its value against six major peers, fell 0.3 percent, adding to gold’s appeal by making it cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Financial markets are expecting U.S. growth to slow next year due to rising interest rates. A measure of U.S. consumer confidence posted its sharpest decline in more than three years in December, emphasising the possibility.

A darkening outlook for global economic growth, a simmering trade war between the United States and China, as well as Brexit-linked uncertainty may trigger renewed risk aversion and help lift gold prices in 2019, Spivak said.

Gold is often used by investors as a hedge against political and financial uncertainty.

“We are seeing good amount of selling from the producers to take advantage of higher prices, which has stopped gold’s rally on the upside,” said Afshin Nabavi, senior vice president at MKS SA.

“As long as the U.S. government continues to remain shut, it may invoke some safe-haven bids and help gold to touch new highs.”

Both chambers of the U.S. Congress convened for only a few minutes late on Thursday, but took no steps to end a partial federal government shutdown before adjourning until next week.

Meanwhile, stocks in Europe and Asia rose cautiously after Wall Street ended a volatile session with big gains, but fears of further price swings and worries about U.S. politics kept safe-haven currencies such as the yen and Swiss franc in demand.

Among other precious metals, silver rose to a near-5-month high at $15.36 per ounce and by 1330 GMT was up 0.8 percent at $15.31. It was on track for its biggest weekly gain since August 2017, up 4.7 percent so far this week.

Platinum was down 0.3 percent at $793.40 per ounce, while palladium dipped 0.9 percent to $1,263.63. Palladium has gained 2.6 percent this week. (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Louise Heavens)

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