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PRECIOUS-Gold rises 1 pct on bargain hunting, posts weekly gain

Julia Fioretti and Frank Tang
Friday, 13 Dec 2013 | 4:55 PM ET

* Gold ends about 1 pct up for the week

* Focus on timing of reduction in U.S. stimulus

* Coming up: US productivity data Monday

(Adds second dateline, byline, updates market activity) LONDON/NEW YORK, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Gold rose 1 percent on Friday, helped by bargain-hunting after a sharp two-day plunge, but analysts said the market remains vulnerable to the downside ahead of the all-important Federal Reserve policy meeting next week. For the week, gold was up almost 1 percent on a lower dollar and heavy short-covering earlier in the week. Stronger-than-expected U.S. retail sales numbers on Thursday, adding to last week's forecast-beating jobs report, strengthened speculation the Fed could start winding down its bond purchases at its Dec. 17-18 meeting. Adding to the rosier economic picture was news that U.S. lawmakers had struck a tentative budget deal that would avoid a government shutdown in January. "The data, as well as the budget deal, have been modestly encouraging, and it shifted opinion back towards tapering in December," said HSBC chief precious metals analyst James Steel. "We had a big decline yesterday and this is really a round of short-covering going on right now," Steel said of gold. Spot gold climbed 1.1 percent to $1,237 an ounce by 3:22 p.m. EST (2022 GMT). U.S. gold futures for February delivery settled up $9.70 at $1,234.60, with trading volume about 40 percent below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed. Gold is headed for a 26 percent decline this year, its first annual decline since 2000. Investors, encouraged by a recovering global economy, pulled money from gold and channeled it into riskier assets such as equities. Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest gold ETF, fell the most in nearly two months on Thursday. The fund has not seen inflows in more than a month, hinting that a substantial upside in prices is limited, traders said. Silver took its cue from gold, rising 1.1 percent to $19.67 an ounce. Platinum group metals largely ignored news that South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Thursday it had agreed a two-year wage deal for pay increases of 7.5 to 8.5 percent with Anglo American Platinum, the world's top producer of the precious metal. Platinum eased 0.1 percent to $1,357.70, and palladium also dropped 0.1 percent to $714.

3:45 PM EST LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold FEB 1234.60 9.70 0.8 1219.50 1238.10 106,577 US Silver MAR 19.604 0.151 0.8 19.280 19.740 32,779 US Plat JAN 1362.90 -1.50 -0.1 1356.30 1370.30 9,084 US Pall MAR 716.20 -4.05 -0.6 715.05 725.75 3,483 Gold 1237.00 13.40 1.1 1220.80 1238.50 Silver 19.670 0.220 1.1 19.330 19.740 Platinum 1357.70 -1.05 -0.1 1361.75 1369.00 Palladium 714.00 -0.72 -0.1 716.00 723.50 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 111,387 173,576 188,333 21.32 0.11 US Silver 34,466 59,224 57,746 28.77 1.62 US Platinum 11,417 10,525 12,510 16.33 0.11 US Palladium 3,592 7,451 5,925 20.99 0.77

(Editing by Alden Bentley)