Gold flat as steadier dollar offsets lower European shares

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Gold was little changed on Thursday as the impact of a steadier dollar was counteracted by lower European equities alongside fading optimism over a potential deal between Greece and its creditors.

was flat on the day at $1,187.46 an ounce by 1140 GMT, within reach of a two-week low of $1,183.76 hit in the previous session. U.S. gold futures for June delivery rose $1.30 to $1,186.80 an ounce.

"There is some support from the Greek situation, but we don't expect any major price rises for the time being," Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann said. He added that gold is likely to remain stuck around the $1,200 level while uncertainty persists over Greece and U.S. interest rates.

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Investors were monitoring updates from a meeting of G7 ministers and central bank heads in Germany, where the Greek situation was being discussed on the sidelines.

A worsening of the Greek debt crisis could potentially trigger demand for gold coins and bars.

Speaking to journalists in Frankfurt, ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio underlined the gravity of the situation facing Greece, talking openly about a possible default, which would be the first of its kind in the 16-year-old euro zone.

Gold is usually seen as a hedge against political and financial risk, though the impact on demand from wider political worries is usually short-lived.

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The dollar, meanwhile, hovered around a one-month high, up 0.1 percent against a basket of leading currencies, while European shares gave back some of the previous session's gains.

The U.S. currency will be an important factor in gold's near-term direction, HSBC said in a note, adding that $1,180 was the next big support level for bullion.

Gold fell 1.7 percent on Tuesday, its sharpest one-day drop since April, after U.S. data showed strong core business spending, new home sales and consumer confidence.

The robust U.S. releases added to views that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates soon.

The dollar had been well-bid since Fed Chair Janet Yellen said last week that the central bank was poised to raise rates later this year.

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Data on U.S. weekly jobless claims and pending home sales due later on Thursday will be watched for trading cues.

Higher U.S. interest rates increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

In the physical markets, China's net gold imports from main conduit Hong Kong tumbled to an eight-month low in April, data showed on Thursday.

was down 0.4 percent at $16.60 an ounce, having hit its lowest point since May 13 at $16.55 an ounce on Wednesday. Platinum retreated 0.3 percent to $1,112.25 an ounce while palladium lost 0.3 percent to $780.72 an ounce.