PRECIOUS-Platinum, palladium near multi-month highs on econ hopes
* Gold nearly flat in $4 range
* Spot gold may rise to $1,706/oz -technicals
* Coming up: U.S. TR/UMich consumer sentiment; 1455 GMT
(Adds detail, comment; updates prices) SINGAPORE, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Platinum and palladium on Friday hovered near multi-month highs hit in the previous session as upbeat data from the world's top two economies bolstered hopes for global recovery, while gold was little changed after marking a one-month peak. China snapped seven quarters of slowing expansion, official data showed, while U.S. labour and housing market numbers on Thursday were also robust. The quickening pace of growth in the world's No.2 economy is likely to underpin sentiment towards platinum group metals, which have rallied strongly in the past week or so on optimism over the global outlook. But worries that the U.S. Federal Reserve could be tempted to finish its large-scale asset purchases continued to drag on gold, with prices hovering in a tight range of barely $4. "Investors are not confident which direction gold will take," said Peter Fung, head of dealing at Wing Fung Precious Metals in Hong Kong, adding that a wave of physical buying from the start of the year had been waning. "We are not seeing fresh physical buying interest at this point." Spot gold was little changed at $1,688.33 an ounce by 0305 GMT, heading for a weekly rise of 1.6 percent, its biggest such climb in nearly two months. It hit a one-month high of $1,695.56 on Thursday. U.S. gold inched down 0.1 percent to $1,688.40. Spot gold is expected to rise to $1,706 an ounce in the day, as it is riding on a wave c, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.
Spot platinum edged down 0.1 percent to $1,687.24, but remained on course for a weekly gain of over 3 percent in its third straight week of rises. Spot palladium was 0.1 percent up at $723.47, but was expected to chalk up a 3.8-percent weekly gain. It climbed to $727 in the previous session, the highest level since September, 2011. Spot silver was nearly flat at $31.74, on track for a weekly rise of 4.3 percent in its fourth week of gains. The U.S. Mint has sold out its 2013 American Eagle silver bullion coins due to soaring demand in the first two weeks of the year.
Precious metals prices 0305 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume Spot Gold 1688.33 1.07 +0.06 0.82 Spot Silver 31.74 0.02 +0.06 4.82 Spot Platinum 1687.24 -1.75 -0.10 9.92 Spot Palladium 723.47 0.75 +0.10 4.55 COMEX GOLD FEB3 1688.40 -2.40 -0.14 0.75 7806 COMEX SILVER MAR3 31.77 -0.04 -0.14 5.08 1556 Euro/Dollar 1.3370 Dollar/Yen 89.82
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
(Editing by Joseph Radford)