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Gold heading for first weekly gain since February after Fed meeting

Gold
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Gold rose on Friday and was on course for its first weekly gain since February as the dollar hit a five-week low following the Federal Reserve's cautious message on interest rates, making bullion cheaper for holders of non-U.S. currencies.

The Fed raised U.S. rates on Wednesday as expected, but left its earlier forecast of three rate increases this year unchanged, disappointing some investors who had hoped for hints of a possible fourth hike in 2017.

Spot gold advanced 0.26 percent at $1,229.56 an ounce. On Thursday the metal hit $1,233.13, its highest since March 6.

U.S. gold futures for April delivery settled up $3.10 at $1,230.20.

"There is momentum as people start to look again how far they can push gold higher," said Georgette Boele at ABN AMRO.

The dollar had hit a ceiling and would fall further in the near term, she said.

President Donald Trump's failure so far to push through promised economic stimulus measures may have influenced the Fed, Tom Kendall at ICBC Standard Bank said.

"If infrastructure spending and tax cuts are being pushed further and further out, it gives the Fed more reason to be cautious. That is a bit of a vacuum that gold can rally into," he said.

Failure to deliver swift tax cuts and regulatory reform could puncture a rally in U.S. stocks, said Edward Meir at INTL FCStone.

"Any retracement in stocks could help gold build on its recent move," he said in a note.

Investors were also looking ahead to the Group of 20 finance leaders' meeting in Germany this weekend, where any attempt by the Trump administration to pursue protectionist policies could fuel demand for gold as a safe haven.

However, strong U.S. economic growth will inevitably push the Fed to ratchet up rates, putting pressure on gold, said ICBC's Kendall. He sees gold averaging $1,140 in the second quarter.

Rate rises lead to higher bond yields, which increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion and tend to boost the dollar, in which gold is priced.

Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust fell 0.28 percent to 837.06 tons on Thursday from 839.43 tons on Wednesday. The world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund saw outflows after three straight sessions of inflows this week.

Spot silver rose 0.41 percent to $17.35 an ounce. The metal hit its highest since March 7 in the prior session.

Platinum gained 0.82 percent to $961.30, while palladium was up 1.41 percent at $774.75.