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PRECIOUS-Gold inches up as sluggish euro zone data rekindles growth fears

Kitco News

* Gold prices down about 1.4 percent so far this week
* Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust near their lowest since Oct
* U.S. retail sales data due at 1230 GMT

(Updates prices, adds details)

By Sethuraman N R

April 18 (Reuters) - Gold inched up on Thursday, recovering from near 4-month lows it hit early in the session after data showing euro zone businesses were under pressure reignited concerns about global growth, but a stronger dollar capped its gains.

Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,274.44 per ounce by 1237 GMT, having fallen to its lowest since Dec. 27 at $1,270.63 earlier in the session.

The metal has so far lost about 1.4 percent in the holiday-shortened week, and is on track for a fourth straight weekly decline. Most markets are closed for Good Friday on April 19.

Euro zone businesses started this quarter on the back foot, with growth unexpectedly slowing again, surveys showed. "The figures for the euro zone were mixed. The market clearly does not know what to do next. But the European Central Bank is going to be on hold, which is offering some support for gold," Quantitative Commodity Research analyst Peter Fertig said.

Gold, as a non-yielding asset, tends to suffer when central banks raise interest rates.

"The stock markets are down and that's compensating a bit in gold," Fertig added. "Uncertainty about the economic situation is also supporting the gold market a little bit."

Global shares erased this week's gains after the weak manufacturing surveys from Asia and Europe stoked fears of a slowdown in global growth. The euro zone numbers came at a time when global markets were slowly recovering from fears of a slowdown after a slew of positive data from China and the United States. Also on investors' radar will be developments in U.S.-China trade talks.

Washington and Beijing have set a tentative timeline for the next round of talks and are aiming to conclude negotiations by early June, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday. Helping curb gains in gold, higher than expected monthly retail sales data in the U.S. pushed the dollar up by 0.4 percent, making the metal more expensive for holders of other currencies. Holdings of the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust , stood at 752.86 tonnes on Wednesday, a marginal increase from the previous day but still around their lowest levels since Oct. 27. "While holdings in SPDR Gold shares have dropped to a six-month low, overall gold holdings in physically-backed ETFs have remained relatively consistent, suggesting macro asset allocators continue to maintain some exposure in the wider risk environment," BMO Capital Markets said in a research note.

Elsewhere, silver was down 0.3 percent at $14.92 an ounce and platinum rose 1 percent to $892.31.

Palladium slipped 1.2 percent to $1,385 an ounce, having jumped 3.9 percent to a two-week high of $1,406.81 in the previous session.

(Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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