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Gold slips from 6-year top on profit-taking, still up for the week

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Gold fell about 1% on Friday as the dollar firmed and investors took profits after prices briefly surpassed $1,450 to hit a six-year peak on dovish signals from the U.S. Federal Reserve and is still on course for a second week of gains.

Spot gold was down about 1.65% at $1,422.2, having touched its highest since early May 2013 at $1,452.60.

Prices have risen about 3% in the last two days and by about 1.2% so far this week, on increased expectations for an interest rate hike by the Fed at its month-end meeting.

U.S. gold futures fell by 0.32% to $1,423.5.

"Speculators and traders are taking some profits off the table after the good gains we had in the past two days. Also, there is always a little bit of pressure on gold when the dollar is up," said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors.

The dollar was 0.3% stronger against a basket of currencies, recovering from a sharp fall triggered by dovish comments from Fed policymakers.

At a conference on Thursday, New York Fed President John Williams said policymakers could not wait for economic disaster to hit before adding stimulus.

In an interview, Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida said policymakers might need to act early to stimulate the U.S. economy as an insurance policy against rising risks.

Lower interest rates tend to boost gold as it reduces the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion and also weighs on the dollar.

"Gold is still looking good. The interest rates and dollar environment, uncertainties over the U.S.-China trade war and now the geopolitical situation being the icing on the cake; all of this has created a very supportive environment for gold," said Mitsubishi analyst Jonathan Butler.

The United States said its navy had destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, while Iran said all its drones had returned to base safely and there was no sign of major escalation in the Gulf.

Gold is a preferred asset during times of political or economic uncertainty.

"With any (geo-political) tensions, we generally have incremental buying for gold. But in today's price action that is not happening or rather, it is being overpowered (by profit taking)," Matousek added.

Platinum was steady at $849.20 per ounce, after hitting a two-month high, while palladium fell 1.2% to $1,507.68.

Silver slipped 0.7% to $16.23, after surging to its highest level in a year, but was on track for its best week since July 2016, having gained nearly 7%.