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Gold holds near seven-week high, as investors look to Fed

Gold
Source: World Gold Council

Gold was down from a seven-week high on Wednesday as investors took profits following a recent rally, with strong economic growth in Europe and rising U.S. stock markets encouraging a shift to riskier assets.

But gold prices were supported by doubts U.S. interest rates would rise quickly while the market awaited U.S. payroll data on Friday for further clues.

Spot gold was down 0.05 percent at $1,267.68 an ounce. On Tuesday it touched $1,273.97, the highest since June 14, having risen nearly 6 percent from a low in early July.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled down 0.08 percent at $1,278.40.

"Good European data gives greater optimism for the outlook," said ETF Securities strategist Martin Arnold. "People aren't necessarily looking for that event risk hedge which gold provides."

But he said prices were unlikely to move significantly before Friday's payroll data. Political turmoil in Washington and a run of weak economic indicators has reduced expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise rates rapidly.

"Investors are probably looking for some further evidence of stronger inflation numbers before they get a little bit more optimistic about a rate hike," said ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising rates because they lift bond yields, raising the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, and tend to boost the dollar, in which gold is priced.

The dollar remained near 14-month lows on Wednesday while U.S. bond yields rose slightly. On the technical side, fibonacci resistance for gold was at $1,274.70 with support at $1,261.30, analysts at ScotiaMocatta said.

Demand for physical gold, however, has been weak, with holdings in the largest gold-backed exchange-traded-fund, the SPDR Gold Trust, falling more than 7 percent in July, the biggest monthly outflow since April 2013.

In other precious metals, silver was down 0.27 percent to $16.655 an ounce after earlier touching its highest since June 29.

Platinum was 0.5 percent higher at $948.40 an ounce. Palladium was up 0.19 percent at $893.70 an ounce.

The metal used in the automotive industry for emission-controlling catalytic converters touched $900 for the first time since June 13 on Tuesday. But U.S. car sales data had disappointed, analysts at Commerzbank said. Speculative investors were keeping the price elevated, they said in a note. "We no longer see any justification for the high palladium price."