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PRECIOUS-Gold hits highest since May 1 on political uncertainty

* U.S. economy grows 1.2 pct in first quarter -data

* Silver, palladium see biggest weekly gains this month

(Updates prices; adds comment, second byline, NEW YORK dateline) NEW YORK/LONDON, May 26 (Reuters) - Gold rose to its highest in nearly four weeks on Friday as political uncertainty led investors to favor bullion over assets considered riskier such as stocks. "We have had the political noise coming from Trump and the U.S. administration and there is a certain element of uncertainty in the markets in general, which is supporting gold. Equities are also down," analyst Carsten Menke at Julius Baer in Zurich said. Leaders of the world's rich nations face difficult talks with Donald Trump at a G7 summit in Sicily on Friday after the U.S. president lambasted NATO allies and condemned German trade policies a day earlier. Gold is often a favored investment during times of political and financial uncertainty.

Spot gold gained 1.1 percent at $1,268.69 an ounce by

2:19 p.m. EDT (1819 GMT), the highest since May 1. It was on track to close the week up around 1 percent, the third straight

week higher. U.S. gold futures settled up 0.9 percent at

$1,268.10. Many traders will be away from their desks for an extended Memorial Day holiday weekend in the United States and in Britain, with many financial markets closed on Monday, when U.S. gold futures will close early. "We do expect a (U.S.) rate hike in June and we see the dollar strengthening again," said Menke. "On the upside, there's a lot of uncertainty, which keeps people from selling gold and maybe causing a little bit of buying." Data on Friday showed U.S. gross domestic product grew at a 1.2 percent annual rate in the first quarter instead of the 0.7 percent pace reported last month, supporting the dollar.

"Oddly enough, the gold price is holding more ground than many traders may have expected on these positive economic releases out of the U.S.A," said Miguel Perez-Santalla, vice president of Heraeus Metal Management in New York. "Though technically, the precious metals market appears to be strong, the positive economic view is likely to prevail at some point against it."

Among other precious metals, spot platinum climbed

1.1 percent to $956.99, its highest in a month. Head of Technical Analysis Stéphanie Aymes at Societe Generale said a bullish formation on the charts means platinum is expected to head towards $991. Platinum is up 1.8 percent for the week.

Spot silver rose 1.3 percent to $17.33 and was on

track to gain 3.1 percent this week, its biggest weekly rise since mid-April.

Palladium rose 2.2 percent to $788.10 and has added

3.8 percent this week, its first weekly gain this month.

(Additional reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum)