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PRECIOUS-Gold rises ahead of testimony from Fed Chief Yellen

Frank Tang and Clara Denina
Monday, 10 Feb 2014 | 5:11 PM ET

* Worries over US debt-ceiling talk also underpin gold

* China 2013 demand tops 1,000 tonnes for the first time

* Palladium approaches major moving averages on chart

* Coming up: Yellen appears before US House Tuesday

(New throughout, updates prices, adds background) NEW YORK/LONDON, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Gold rose on Monday as worries about weak U.S. labor market data had some investors betting that Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen may signal a pause in the central bank's efforts to wind down its bond-buying stimulus. But gold's rise did not carry it past $1,278, which was close to a three-month high. Technical signals indicate gold could slide later this week unless Yellen delivers a positive surprise during her testimony before Congress, said Frank McGhee, head precious metals dealer at Chicago commodities brokerage Alliance Financial LLC. "Gold is currently right up against hard resistance on charts. Unless there is a positive surprise that is way out of the ordinary from Yellen's testimony, I expect it to pull back later this week," McGhee said. Investors will be watching Yellen's first testimony as Fed Chief to U.S. lawmakers. The Fed has started to wind down the bond purchases, or quantitative easing, that has encouraged investments in gold and other commodities. But some gold investors bet the Fed may grow more cautious after data last week showed U.S. job creation slowed sharply over the past two months. Spot gold rose 0.6 percent to $1,274.24 an ounce by 2:56 p.m. EST (1956 GMT), extending last week's 1.9 percent rise, its largest weekly increase since the week of Jan. 3. U.S. COMEX gold futures for April delivery settled up $11.80 at $1,274.70 an ounce. Trading volume was less than 95,000 lots, about half of its 250-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed. Last week, gold rose 2 percent after data showed U.S. job creation slowed sharply over the past two months, fueling speculation that slowing economic momentum will force the U.S. central bank to maintain its current level of stimulus. Traders said gold was also underpinned by rekindled worries over congressional gridlock about raising the federal debt ceiling. U.S. equities were little changed late on Monday. Earlier in the session, gold received a boost as the S&P 500 equities index fell on growth worries. In physical markets, consumer demand in China, the world's biggest bullion consumer, topped 1,000 tonnes for the first time in 2013, an industry body said on Monday. Among other precious metals, silver was up 0.3 percent to $20.04 an ounce. Platinum edged up 0.1 percent at $1,380.50 an ounce, while palladium rose 1 percent to $714.75 an ounce. Earlier on Monday, palladium broke above its 50-day moving averages and was trading near its 100- and 200-day moving averages. However, it retreated in New York's late afternoon trade. Traders said palladium buying was driven by expectations of better auto demand after heavy selling earlier this year on Chinese growth worries.

2:56 PM EST LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold APR 1274.70 11.80 0.9 1264.70 1277.80 87,663 US Silver MAR 20.112 0.176 0.9 19.960 20.275 42,659 US Plat APR 1385.90 6.70 0.5 1379.10 1394.60 6,667 US Pall MAR 716.75 7.95 1.1 708.85 722.25 4,088 Gold 1274.24 7.66 0.6 1265.73 1277.70 Silver 20.040 0.060 0.3 20.000 20.270 Platinum 1380.50 1.25 0.1 1382.25 1392.00 Palladium 714.75 7.00 1.0 712.25 721.50 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 92,326 166,401 185,409 17.39 0.34 US Silver 58,431 45,064 56,275 23.24 -2.03 US Platinum 7,143 10,943 13,290 18.43 -0.20 US Palladium 5,602 4,778 5,596 18.19 -0.17

(Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; editing by Keiron Henderson, Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)