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PRECIOUS-Gold holds above $1,500 on trade tensions

Kitco News

* Gold up 4.3%, Silver gains about 5% so far this week
* Dollar heading for first weekly decline in four
* SPDR Gold holdings up 1.8% so far this week (Updates prices)

By K. Sathya Narayanan

Aug 9 (Reuters) - Gold was on course for its biggest weekly gain in more than three years on Friday as it held above $1,500 an ounce on heightened trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Spot gold was up 0.2% at $1,502.64 per ounce at 1103 GMT, having risen above $1,500 for the first time since April 2013 earlier this week.

Bullion has risen 4.3% so far this week, and about 17% for the year, gaining more than $100 in the past week.

U.S. gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,514.30 an ounce.

"The trade spat is driving the market crazy. We don't rule out technical corrections, but $1,500 is now the new normal unless trade relations take a turn in a right direction," said Jigar Trivedi, commodities analyst at Mumbai-based Anand Rathi Shares & Stock Brokers.

In the latest development in the protracted dispute between the world's biggest economics, a report said that Washington is delaying a decision about licenses for U.S. firms to restart trade with Huawei Technologies..

Investment demand and a dovish policy stance by central banks around the globe are providing additional support to gold prices, Trivedi added.

The central banks of New Zealand, Thailand and India stunned markets with a series of interest rate cuts, pointing to policymakers' dwindling ammunition to fight a downturn.

Federal funds futures implied traders saw a 69% chance of at least a 25 basis-point rate cut by the U.S. central bank this September. The Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate for the first time since 2008 last week.

Lower interest rates reduces the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

The dollar was headed for its first weekly decline in four, adding to gold's appeal.

Alexander Zumpfe, a precious metals trader at Heraeus, said there was technical resistance around $1,530 but he did not rule out a move toward $1,600 if the current expectations of lower interest rates were reinforced or even confirmed by central banks through actual interest rate cuts.

Meanwhile, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, has gained about 1.8% this week and about 7.3% in 2019.

Precious metal funds recorded the fourth-largest inflows ever in the week to Wednesday and investment-grade funds sucked in money, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said on Friday, as rising trade tensions and global growth concerns prompted a dash for safe havens.

Elsewhere, silver rose 0.6% to $17 per ounce and was on course for a weekly gain of nearly 5%. Platinum dipped 0.1% to $859.43, while palladium climbed 0.3% to $1,425.75 an ounce. (Reporting by Arpan Varghese and K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; Editing by Alexander Smith and Kirsten Donovan)

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