May 23, 2017 / 10:57 AM / 3 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold steady as traders lock in profits after two weeks of gains

    * Gold awaiting further word from Fed on rates - analyst
    * Platinum hits highest in nearly a month
    * Silver this three-week high

 (Updates prices)
    By Maytaal Angel
    LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) - Gold prices were little changed
on Tuesday as the dollar steadied near 6-1/2 month lows and
traders locked in profits after two weeks of gains, shrugging
off heightened political risk following a deadly suicide attack
in Britain.
    The blast, which killed at least 22 people, weighed on
sterling versus the dollar       , but the U.S. currency was
flat against a currency basket        after recent sharp falls,
leaving little to prompt investors to bet bullion higher.
                  
    "Gold is taking a breather once again; it's struggling to
make it out of this $1,245-$1,265 range," said Ole Hansen, head
of commodities strategy at Saxo Bank.
    "Unless we get other developing (political risk) stories,
the market is not prepared to break this range until further
guidance from the Federal Open Market Committee." 
    Spot gold        edged up 0.2 percent to $1,262.10 an ounce
by 1211 GMT, having gained about 3.6 percent since May 9, while
U.S. gold futures         were up 0.1 percent at $1,262.
    The safe-haven metal, also seen as an alternative currency
to the U.S. dollar, has been supported by weakening U.S.
economic data and troubles facing U.S. President Donald Trump,
all of which have weighed on the greenback.
    The dollar is down by about 7 percent this year, reversing
all the gains made after Trump's election win in November.
    Still, Federal Reserve fund futures were up, showing a 75
percent chance of a June increase to interest rates and
deterring investors from pushing gold higher until further word
from the Fed on the the prospects for rates this year.
    The Fed will publish minutes of its May meeting on
Wednesday.
    In the wider markets, U.S. stock index futures opened higher
ahead of Trump's first full budget plan, while European shares
advanced on encouraging economic data that helped to lift the
euro to a six-month high against the dollar.                  
    Silver        was up 0.6 percent at $17.23 an ounce, having
touched a three-week peak of $17.30.
    Platinum        rose by 1 percent to $950.90 after hitting
$957.50, its highest in nearly a month.
    Palladium        rose 0.2 percent to $771.95, having dropped
to a more than two-month low in intraday trading on Monday
before ending the day up 1.5 percent, its biggest one-day gain
since April 20.

 (Additional reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru;
Editing by David Clarke and David Goodman)
  

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