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Gold slips ahead of Britain's vote on EU membership

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Gold fell to a ten-day low on Tuesday as global shares rose and expectations that Britain could vote to leave the European Union in Thursday's referendum receded.

Two opinion polls on Monday showed the "Remain" camp had recovered some ground in the referendum debate though a third poll found those wanting to leave were ahead by a whisker.

"With the odds for a "Brexit" outcome lower, riskier assets increased and gold is coming under increasing pressure," ABN Amro analyst Georgette Boele said.

Spot gold was down 1.8 percent at $1,266.55. U.S. gold settled down $19.60 at $1,272.50, and last dropped 1.72 percent at $1,270.

"Wider markets seem to be too confident in a 'remain' victory," said Macquarie analyst Matthew Turner, adding that a decision to stay in the European Union could mean the U.S. Federal Reserve could get on with raising interest rates, which would be negative for gold.

A vote to leave would instead strengthen the dollar and limit any gold rally, Turner added.

Gold touched a near-two year high at $1,315.55 last week due to uncertainty around the outcome of the UK referendum and after a cautious note from the Federal Reserve on interest rates.

Meanwhile, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Tuesday that global risks and a U.S. hiring slowdown warrant a cautious approach to raising interest rates as the Federal Reserve looks for confirmation that the country's economic recovery remains on track.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising interest rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding the precious metal.

European shares steadied and U.S. stock index futures rose while the British pound set a seven-week high against the dollar.

In other news, the United Kingdom was the main destination for Swiss gold exports for a third straight month in May, data from the Swiss customs bureau showed on Tuesday, as investment in bullion-backed funds based in Britain continued.

Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.10 percent to 908.77 tonnes on Monday, the highest since September 2013.

"We think that gold is under short-term volatility, but longer-term factors driving the gold demand are still intact," said Richard Xu, fund manager of China's top gold exchange-traded fund (ETF) HuaAn Gold.

"We think that gold could be a very good buying opportunity if it pulls back a little bit," Xu said.