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PRECIOUS-Gold creeps higher as Turkish currency crisis roils markets

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* Turkish lira plunges, U.S. dollar hits 13-month high
* Lira crisis spurs safe-haven demand for gold
* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns: (Updates prices) By Peter Hobson LONDON, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged higher on Friday, with the crisis engulfing Turkey's lira boosting demand for bullion as a safe investment while at the same time bolstering the dollar, making gold more expensive for buyers with other currencies. Investors rushed to the safety of the greenback as the lira collapsed as much as 23 percent to a record low, Russia's rouble crumbled to its lowest in more than two years and the euro and pound touched their weakest levels in a year. With the turmoil in Turkey spreading to other markets, gold - traditionally used as a safe investment in times of uncertainty - also saw some extra interest, Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen said. "There is a battle going on between the strengthening dollar and some safe-haven demand emerging from the contagion risk following the collapse of the lira."


Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,214.71 an ounce at 1345 GMT, with the dollar 0.8 percent stronger against a basket of major currencies. Gold was set to end the week largely unchanged after four consecutive weeks of price falls. U.S. gold futures were 0.2 percent higher at $1,222.80 an ounce. Gold has tumbled 11 percent from an April high to a one-year low of $1,204 last week as the dollar rallied to 13-month highs and investors exited gold positions and began to speculate on lower prices.


Holdings of gold at exchange-traded funds (ETFs) tracked by Reuters have fallen by 3.7 million ounces, or 6.3 percent, since late May to the lowest in almost a year. Speculators have meanwhile expanded their net short position on the Comex exchange to the biggest ever recorded, helping to drive prices lower. Adding to the pressure are expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month, bolstering the dollar and U.S. bond yields and damaging the appeal of non-yielding gold. Those expectations were bolstered on Friday by data showing an increase in U.S. consumer price inflation. If gold rises, investors could be forced to liquidate short positions, which would lift prices. But this is unlikely to happen until gold reaches around $1,230, according to Hansen.


In the meantime, he said, "the bears are still in control". Momentum indicators suggest prices will fall further, analysts at ScotiaMocatta said, with support at gold's July 2017 low of $1,204.90.


Silver was down 0.1 percent at $15.39 an ounce, platinum was 0.1 percent lower at $829.49 an ounce and palladium gained 0.4 percent to $910.80 an ounce. All three metals were on track to end the week largely flat.
(Additional reporting by Apeksha Nair in BENGALURU; Editing by Dale Hudson, David Stamp, William Maclean)

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