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PRECIOUS-Gold climbs quietly as investors wary ahead of French vote

Kitco News

* Gold on track for steady weekly performance after 5 higher

* Silver falls for 5th session

(Updates prices; adds comment, second byline, NEW YORK to dateline)

By Marcy Nicholson and Eric Onstad

NEW YORK/LONDON, April 21 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose slightly on Friday as investors awaited the first-round of voting in the presidential French election at the weekend and possible announcements about tax changes in the United States.

Spot gold was up 0.3 percent at $1,284.62 an ounce by 2:30 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT), on track to close the week little changed after five straight weeks higher.

U.S. gold futures settled up 0.4 percent at $1,289.10.

"The big news over the weekend will be the French election and the market will be to an extent on hold ahead of that," said Mitsubishi commodities analyst Jonathan Butler.

There was potential for safe-haven buying of gold after France said security forces were fully mobilized for the weekend vote after an Islamist militant killed a policeman Thursday night. "Into the near term, if the geopolitical tensions intensify, there is a chance that gold prices will reach $1,300 or more," OCBC analyst Barnabas Gan said.

A move in gold above $1,290/91 would be significant as it would break above a downtrend that has been in place since gold touched an all-time high of $1,920.30 in 2011, Butler said.

"You would have thought with the Champs-Elysees attack that you would have got a little more safe-haven buying ahead of the French election," said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist for U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Seattle.

"If you're in the gold market, there's already stretched speculation and there's not a lot of new news to drive it. So in the meantime it's probably time for a bit of a pause," he said.

Investors were also watching events in Washington. President Donald Trump's administration will unveil a tax reform plan soon and expects it will be approved by Congress this year, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday. Gold is at risk of some profit-taking after a strong recent run, but should be supported by other factors, analysts said.

"Gold struggled to hold this week's gains as the dollar strengthened and concerns over global risk eased. However, selling was relatively muted, which suggests a period of consolidation is now upon us," ANZ analysts wrote in a note.

Spot silver slipped 0.6 percent to $17.89 an ounce, extending losses into a fifth session, having shed more than 3 percent so far this week despite tapping a five-month high on Monday.

Platinum slipped 0.8 percent to $970, while palladium fell 1 percent at $791.75.

(Additional reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair and Leslie Adler)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.

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