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PRECIOUS-Gold recovers from 4-month low, tracks oil price rally

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* Speculators switched to net short in COMEX gold last week - CFTC
* SPDR gold holdings fall to lowest in over 6 months
* Brent prices jump 3 percent to highest since Nov (Updates prices) By Sethuraman N R April 22 (Reuters) - Gold inched up on Monday, moving away from a near 4-month trough touched in the previous session, drawing support from a drop in equities and a jump in crude oil prices. Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,277.67 per ounce, by 1228 GMT, having touched $1,270.63 on Thursday - its lowest since Dec. 27. The market was closed on Friday.

Asian shares slipped, weighed down by underperforming Chinese stocks, while oil prices rallied on news the United States is likely to ask all importers of Iranian oil to end their purchases or face sanctions. Higher oil prices were influencing gold, said Jigar Trivedi, a commodities analyst at Mumbai-based Anand Rathi Shares & Stock Brokers. "While the intensity of correlation between oil and gold has reduced, buying in one asset class is supporting the other," Trivedi said.

Gold is closely correlated to oil as the metal is often seen as a hedge against oil-led inflation. However, a firmer dollar capped gold's gains after data showed the United Sates' economic growth may have picked up in the first quarter after a false start. U.S. retail sales increased by the most in 1-1/2 years in March, data showed on Thursday. "The disaster over the weekend in Sri Lanka is providing some safe-haven demand besides some interest in physical buying, which is also offering support to gold prices," said Afshin Nabavi, senior vice president at MKS SA. Gold is considered a safe investment during political or economic uncertainties. Attacks on churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Sunday killed 290 people and wounded more than 500. Nabavi said strong resistance at $1,280 was capping gold's move higher, along with a stronger dollar.

Following the Good Friday holiday, markets in Britain, Germany and France remain closed for Easter Monday.

Meanwhile, speculators switched to a net short position in COMEX gold in the week to April 16, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday. Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust , the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, dropped to 751.68 tonnes on Thursday, the lowest levels seen since Oct. 26. "Gold is hovering between the 100-day exponential moving average around $1,285 and 200-day exponential moving average around $1,275, below this we can look for $,1260," Anand Rathi's Trivedi said.

Elsewhere, silver rose 0.6 percent to $15.02 per ounce. Platinum gained 1 percent to $909.25 per ounce and Palladium rose 0.3 percent to $1,425.51 an ounce having earlier climbed to its highest in more than two weeks at $1,429.91 an ounce. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Speculators switch to a bearish position in gold ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^> (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru, editing by Louise Heavens and Kirsten Donovan)

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