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Gold gains for 5th straight day on US rate speculation

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Gold rose to a 2-1/2 week high on Tuesday, rising for the fifth straight session on growing expectations that a U.S. interest rate increase could be pushed to September.

Spot gold climbed to its highest level since March 6 at $1,195.30 an ounce before paring gains to trade up 0.4 percent at $1,193.

U.S. gold futures for April delivery rose $3.70, or 0.3 percent, to settle at $1,187.70 an ounce.

Prices were on course to post their longest winning streak since January last year, with investors favoring bullion over the past few days because of a slump in the dollar after the Federal Reserve's cautious stance on the U.S. economy and diminishing likelihood of an early rate increase.

The metal, which does not pay any interest, had suffered from earlier speculation of higher U.S. rates as early as June.

"Since the Fed (statement), we've seen a pretty solid uptrend under the premise that the dark cloud of a rising interest rate environment has been pushed further off in the distance and there's some clear sailing ahead in the near term," said David Meger, director of metals trading for High Ridge Futures in Chicago.

The dollar—which had fallen initially—was up 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies, after U.S. data showed an uptick in underlying inflation pressures and gains in home prices.

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"The dollar remains the main factor which is driving the gold price and traders will be looking very closely towards (Fed officials') comments to gauge when and how rapid the rate hike will be," online broker AvaTrade chief market analyst Naeem Aslam said.

Federal Reserve policymaker James Bullard said on Tuesday that a first rate hike "sometime in the summer" would still leave monetary policy extremely accommodative, and that market expectations should be better aligned with those of the Fed considering the current "boom time" for the U.S. economy.

But other Fed officials had cast doubt on the dollar's appreciation going forward and raised speculation that any tightening of monetary policy could be pushed back.

The Fed is widely expected to begin raising interest rates this year, though the policy path remains uncertain, the central bank's second-in-command said on Monday.