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PRECIOUS-Firm dollar weighs on gold, political uncertainty supports

* Fed's monetary policy meeting comes into view
* Market watching Trump and European elections
* Gold struggling to stay above 21-day moving average

(Releads, updates prices)

By Pratima Desai

LONDON, Jan 30 Gold steadied on Monday as political uncertainty created by U.S. President Donald Trump's move to ban people from seven Muslim-majority countries, and by elections in Europe, supported prices.

Traders reported subdued activity because of the Lunar New Year holiday in many Asian countries and some nervousness before the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting on monetary policy starting on Tuesday.

Spot gold was a touch lower at 1210 GMT, down 0.1 percent at $1,190.56 an ounce. That compared with Friday's 2-1/2-week low of $1,180.65. U.S. gold futures gained 0.1 percent to $1,189.8.

"Gold's future direction will depend on the dollar, U.S. monetary policy and long-term interest rates," said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch,

"The immigration ban added to risk-off sentiment and boosted gold earlier...There is also political risk coming up in the form of elections in France and the Netherlands."

Trump's administration tempered a key element of his immigration ban, but the move reinforces growing worries about investing in the United States, analysts said.

The Fed raised interest rates in December and at that time signaled as many as three rises in 2017 as the Trump administration takes over with promises to boost growth through tax cuts, spending and deregulation.

Higher rates could mean a higher U.S. currency, which makes dollar-denominated gold more expensive for holders of other currencies, potentially dampening demand.

"We maintain a cautious view on gold, taking into consideration the expectation of an improving growth outlook, rising interest rates and a strengthening dollar," Julius Baer analysts said in a note.

"That said, we acknowledge the upside risks related to recent actions taken by President Trump, such as the immigration ban. Should he become the feared 'unguided missile', uncertainties would increase, fostering safe-haven demand and pushing gold prices significantly higher."

Technically, gold is struggling to stay above the 21-day moving average around $1,191 an ounce. A sustained break above is expected to meet resistance at $1,200 and $1,220, near the January highs. Support is at $1,176, the 55-day moving average.

A negative for gold could be speculators cutting their net long positions in the futures market, after two straight weeks of increases, according to data from the CFTC, which also showed they raised their silver holdings to the highest since early November.

Spot silver fell 0.1 percent to $17.09 per ounce, platinum slid 0.6 percent to $977.2 and palladium ceded one percent to $728.9 per ounce.

(Additional reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Adrian Croft)

 

 

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