PRECIOUS-Gold hits 5-week low on firmer dollar, U.S. rate rise prospects

* Dollar index up 0.2 pct after Fed's Plosser, ECB

U.S. consumer confidence data strong

* ETF holdings up; physical buyers have yet to appear

(Updates prices, adds comment)

By Clara Denina

LONDON, March 25 (Reuters) - Gold dipped to its lowest in more than five weeks on Tuesday, as the dollar edged higher after stronger than forecast U.S. consumer confidence data and on expectations of higher U.S. interest rates in the first half of 2015.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes rose to 82.3, the highest since January 2008, from a upwardly revised 78.3 in February and against an expected reading of 78.6.

Spot gold hit its lowest since Feb. 14 at $1,305.50 an ounce soon after Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Charles Plosser said Fed Chair Janet Yellen had not made a mistake when she said there may be around six months between the bank ending its bond buying and starting to raise interest rates.

Low interest rates, which cut the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion above other assets, had been an important factor driving bullion higher in recent years.

Gold prices then gained 0.1 percent to $1,310.86 by 1602 GMT, after European Central Bank (ECB) governing council member and Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann said negative interest rates were an option the bank could use to counter strong gains in the single currency.

U.S. gold futures were up $0.5 to $1,311.80 an ounce.

"Plosser's comments triggered that selloff in gold that took us down to $1,306 and then we had some dovish statement from the ECB, which took some heat off the metal," Saxo Bank senior manager Ole Hansen said.

In the short term, some technical support could take gold a bit higher, but in the longer term the outlook remains bearish, given higher interest rates and a stronger dollar, he added.

The dollar rose 0.2 percent against a basket of major currencies, partly in response to Weidmann's comments.

Investors were also watching the Ukraine crisis. The United States and major industrialised allies warned Russia it faced economic sanctions if it took further action to destabilise Ukraine following the seizure of Crimea.

Gold hit a six-month high of $1,391.76 last week as mounting geopolitical tensions and fears over slowing economic growth spurred demand for the metal as an insurance against risk.

As a gauge of investor interest, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust , the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose to their highest since December at 821.47 tonnes on Monday.


Physical dealers said demand from jewellers and retail investors was subdued, keeping premiums for gold bars little changed in Singapore at $1 an ounce to the spot London prices.

Dealers in Hong Kong said a weak yuan and discounted prices on the Shanghai Gold Exchange had curbed buying interest from China, the world's top consumer.

Among other precious metals, silver rose 0.5 percent to $19.99 an ounce and platinum lost 0.3 percent to $1,418.99 an ounce. Palladium slipped 1 percent to $783.25 an ounce, having touched its highest since August 2011 at $799.50 in the previous session.

Platinum producers Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin said on Tuesday a strike now in its ninth week at their South African mines was causing irreparable damage to the sector and local economy.

(Additional reporting by Lewa Pardomuan in; Singapore; Editing by Anthony Barker)