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Gold settled higher on Wednesday as palladium prices hovered near their highest level since early 2001, benefiting from a five-month strike in South Africa and strong demand from the auto sector.
Palladium has risen 20 percent so far this year, underpinned by supply worries after a South African strike over wages took out 40 percent of global platinum output and hit the domestic economy. The country is the world's second-biggest producer of palladium.
A fresh round of wage settlement talks between the main mine workers' union and major platinum producers broke down on Monday, when the metal rose 1.7 percent.
It touched a peak of $862.50 an ounce on Wednesday, its highest level since Feb. 2001. Prices rose 0.6 percent to $857 an ounce.
for August delivery settled $1.10 higher at $1,261.20 an ounce, logging its third straight daily gain.
Spot gold, meanwhile, was flat at $1,261 an ounce, holding above a four-month low of $1,240.61 hit last week and benefiting from struggling equity markets and a slightly weaker dollar.
"Around these levels, we can say demand seems to be slowing down a little bit. On the investment side, I don't think people are aggressive," said Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.
"Sentiment is slightly bearish. We've got to see whether the downside at $1,200 is a good point to buy. On the upside, $1,275 to $1,280 is not easy to break through," Leung said.
Stocks slipped from near recent highs on Wednesday, while the euro retreated towards a four-month low in the wake of upbeat U.S. economic data and the European Central Bank's monetary easing.
The dollar was down 0.1 percent against a basket of main currencies. A weaker U.S. currency makes dollar-denominated assets such as gold cheaper for foreign investors.
--By Reuters. For more information on precious metals, please click here.