Gold settled higher on Friday, after touching a six-month high as investors added bullion as an insurance before a key vote in Crimea over the weekend to decide whether the region will join Russia, which could further heighten geopolitical tensions.
Moscow shipped more troops and armour into Crimea on Friday and repeated its threat to invade other parts of Ukraine, showing no sign of heeding Western pleas to back off from the worst East-West confrontation since the Cold War.
Russia's stock markets tumbled and the cost of insuring its debt soared on the last day of trading before pro-Moscow authorities in Crimea hold a vote to join Russia, a move all but certain to lead to U.S. and European Union sanctions on Monday.
"There are people here with possible concerns that you will see a heavy price spike (in gold) if this vote does go in," said Thomas Capalbo, a precious metals trader at Newedge, a brokerage in New York. "Gold is up on situational buying."
for April delivery settled 0.5 percent higher at $1,379.00 an ounce, up 2.8 percent on the week.
The metal gained 2.8 percent this week, marking its sixth straight weekly rise, helped by China's first corporate bond default and fears of slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
Spot gold rose as much as 1.4 percent to its highest level since Sept.9 at $1,387.90 an ounce earlier in the session. It later pared gains and was last trading up 0.6 percent to $1,377 an ounce.
The yellow metal was also supported after data showed U.S. consumer sentiment weakened in early March as an unusually harsh winter appeared to dim views on the economy's prospects.
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