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Gold rises to 7-week high on dovish Fed minutes

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AP

Gold rose to a seven-week high on Friday after minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting showed the U.S. central bank was in no hurry to raise interest rates, pressuring the U.S. dollar.

Spot gold was up 1.6 percent at $1,156.81 an ounce, after touching a peak of $1,159.80, its highest since Aug. 24. It is on course to gain 1.5 percent this week.

The U.S. futures contract for December delivery settled up 1 percent at $1,155.90 an ounce.

Prices were supported by Fed minutes released on Thursday, suggesting the central bank was deeply cautious about tightening monetary policy even before last week's soft jobs data showed a sharp slowdown in U.S. hiring.

"There is less of a sentiment in the market that an interest rate hike will take place anytime soon," said Bernard Dahdah, metals analyst at Natixis. "The data that has come out of the U.S. lately hasn't been very positive."

But the market remained somewhat cautious, taking note that the minutes also revealed most Fed policymakers thought the central bank's first rate increase in nearly a decade should still come in 2015.

Weak U.S. economic data and worries about the global economy have prompted many to push back expectations for an interest rate hike, which has helped gold rise nearly 4 percent so far this month.

The U.S. dollar hit multi-week lows against the euro and Swiss franc while stocks on major world markets were on track for their biggest weekly gain since 2011.

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Precious metals with industrial uses garnered some support from the surging base metal prices, such as copper and zinc, after commodities group Glencore said it would cut its zinc output by a third.

Platinum rallied 4.2 percent to $983 a ton, the highest since Sept. 18, and was on track to close the week up 7.7 percent, its strongest in four years after Glencore's announcement that it will shut its Eland platinum mine in South Africa.

"The market was ripe for a bit of short covering. Platinum's been beaten down for quite some time now," said one U.S. refiner.

"The dollar has weakened a bit and that has definitely helped precious metals. We might not see an interest rate in 2015 now."

Palladium rose as much as 3.4 percent to a four-month high at $722 an ounce, heading for its fifth straight weekly gain.

Silver was up 0.8 percent at $15.78 a ton.