Gold set for biggest weekly rise in 6 months as stocks, dollar slip

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Gold prices fell on Friday, on track for their biggest weekly rise since June, as the dollar retreated and sliding oil prices hurt risk appetite, prompting another drop in stocks.

Gold is up nearly 3 percent so far this week. Weakness in stocks has prompted some investors to buy the metal as an alternative asset, while a drop in the U.S. unit made dollar-priced bullion cheaper for other currency holders.

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Spot gold was last down 0.8 percent at $1,218 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures for December delivery were down 0.6 percent at $1,216 an ounce.

"Gold and silver have both had a very good week, going against the trend seen elsewhere," Saxo Bank's head of commodity research Ole Hansen said. "We have reached levels which short sellers have been attracted to in the past and this may slow the positive momentum that has emerged during the past week."

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"Overall there is a feeling out there that traders are now going defensive on their positions and this is weakening the dollar, thereby adding some support to precious metals."

The dollar index was down 0.3 percent on Friday and European stocks slid another 1.4 percent, with further declines in the price of oil hitting energy stocks and political concerns over Greece also curbing risk appetite.

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Benchmark Brent crude oil futures fell 1.3 percent to below $63 a barrel, the lowest since July 2009, hurt by a global supply glut and a sluggish demand outlook. Brent is down 8 percent this week, and 45 percent below its June peak.

An improvement in sentiment towards gold was seen in the holdings of the world's top bullion-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, which rose 0.13 percent to 725.75 tonnes on Thursday, up nearly 5 tonnes this week.

That marks a second straight week of inflows, and the biggest weekly increase in its holdings since early July.

"The longer gold holds above $1,200, the more it may attract fresh buying and gold ETFs may begin to build," HSBC analysts said in a note.