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* Bullion down for the third straight session running
* U.S. housing starts increase more than expected in April
* Spot gold expected to test resistance at $1,307 - technicals
* SPDR gold holdings fall to near Oct. 9 levels (Adds fresh comments, updates prices)
May 16 (Reuters) - Gold prices were set for a third session of declines on Thursday, as the dollar strengthened after the release of strong economic data from the United States and as global stocks advanced.
Spot gold slipped 0.7% to $1,288.03 per ounce as of 11:07 a.m. EDT (1507 GMT). Prices were on track for their biggest percentage decline since April 16.
U.S. gold futures fell 0.8% to $1,287.82 an ounce.
"Firmer dollar is putting pressure on gold, also equity markets continuing to bounce off from the recent lows is taking away some safe-haven bids," said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures, adding that gold is facing a technical pullback
The dollar index rose to its highest levels in nearly two weeks against a basket of currencies after strong economic data out of the United States.
The U.S. housing data showed homebuilding increased more than expected in April, while unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength that should underpin the economy.
Better-than-expected U.S. data coupled with upbeat corporate earnings lifted Wall Street and risk sentiment among investors, in turn denting appeal for the safe-haven bullion.
On the technical side, the $1,300 barrier has proved a crucial pivot for bullion, analysts said.
"The gold bulls and bears are on a level overall near-term technical playing field. First resistance is seen at $1,300 and then at this week's high of $1,304.20," said Jim Wyckoff, senior analyst at Kitco, in a note.
Spot gold is expected to test resistance at $1,307, a break above which could lead to a gain to $1,322, said Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.
Meanwhile, Trump administration's move to blacklist Chinese telecom company Huawei have added further pressure on trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.
"A U.S.-China trade theme continues in the world marketplace: one day the two sides are upbeat on a deal getting done; the next day their tone is sour. Such will keep the markets very uncertain on the matter," Wyckoff wrote in a note.
SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said holdings fell 0.4% to 733.23 tonnes on Wednesday. Holdings are now close to their lowest levels since Oct. 9.
Among other metals, silver was down 0.4 % at $14.74 an ounce while platinum fell 0.2% to $843.65.
Palladium lost 1% to $1,331.30 and has slumped by about 17 percent since the metal used in catalytic converters in car exhaust systems scaled a record peak of $1,620.53 in March. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; editing by Jonathan Oatis)