March 7, 2014 / 3:58 AM / 3 years ago

PRECIOUS-Gold steady, set for 5th week of gains on safe-haven demand

* Gold up nearly 2 pct for the week as Ukraine tensions
mount
    * Physical demand quiet due to price rally
    * Palladium near year-high on supply fears
    * Coming up: US nonfarm payrolls at 1330 GMT

 (Updates prices)
    By A. Ananthalakshmi
    SINGAPORE, March 7 (Reuters) - Gold held steady on Friday
after its sharp overnight rise to near a four-month high and was
poised to log its fifth straight week of gains as a weaker
dollar and geopolitical tensions in Ukraine boosted its
safe-haven status. 
    The metal has gained nearly 9 percent in the last five
weeks, though it was largely unchanged on Friday as investors
shied away from making big bets ahead of a key U.S. jobs report.
    A poor jobs report could further boost gold prices but some
traders warned that prices could have already accounted for the
weakness from severe cold weather.
    The biggest factor supporting gold, however, is still
Ukraine, over which Russia and the West are facing their most
serious confrontation since the end of the Cold War. 
    Crimea's parliament voted on Thursday to join Russia, in a
dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukrainian region, 
prompting U.S. President Barack Obama to order sanctions on
those responsible for Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine.
 
    "If the situation in Ukraine gets worse, prices will go
higher. However, if the crisis is resolved, gold could fall back
to $1,320," said Yuichi Ikemizu, branch manager for Standard
Bank in Tokyo.
    Spot gold was trading nearly unchanged at $1,349 an
ounce by 0715 GMT, after rising 1 percent on Thursday. The metal
has gained nearly 2 percent for the week.
    Prices were also supported by a weaker dollar, which dropped
against the euro after the European Central Bank left interest
rates on hold.  
    "We expect upside to be limited to the range of
$1,380-$1,400 per troy ounce, that is if the gold price even
manages to break the key technical level of $1,361.60 per troy
ounce," said Joyce Liu, investment analyst at Phillip Futures.
    Physical demand for gold has been subdued since prices
crossed $1,300. 
    In top consumer China, premiums over spot prices were below
$1 an ounce on Friday, compared with over $20 an ounce earlier
in the year. 

    PLATINUM GROUP METALS SHINE
    Palladium, with a 5 percent increase, was headed for
its best weekly gain in nearly eight months. It was trading near
its year-high of $781.50 an ounce hit on Thursday.
    Political tensions in top producer Russia and union strikes
in second-biggest producer South Africa have triggered fears of
supply constraints. 
    Platinum was on track for its second straight weekly
gain. 
    Thousands of South African platinum miners from the AMCU
union marched through Pretoria to protest what it says are state
and company efforts to break its six-week old wage strike
against the world's three top producers of the precious metal.
    
    
    PRICES AT 0715 GMT
 Metal              Last        Change   Pct chg
                                                  
 Spot gold                1349    -1.74      -0.13
 Spot silver             21.48     0.04       0.19
 Spot platinum         1479.25     1.65       0.11
 Spot palladium         778.46     1.16       0.15
 Comex gold             1349.3     -2.5      -0.18
 Comex silver            21.52   -0.054      -0.25
 Euro                   1.3858                    
 DXY                    79.669                    
                                                  
 COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most
 active months
 
 (Editing by Richard Pullin and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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