April 14, 2017 / 6:10 AM / 3 years ago

Gold heads for best week since June on Korea, MidEast jitters

LONDON (Reuters) - Gold eased back from the previous day’s five-month high on Friday, but stayed on track for its strongest week since June as concerns over North Korea and the Middle East sent investors scurrying for the safety of bullion and the dollar wilted.

A man looks on as he inspects gold jewellery at a shop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 28, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo

Market liquidity was thin due to Good Friday and Passover holiday observances around the world. The market for U.S. Treasuries finished trading early on Thursday, and will be closed on Friday.

Spot gold was $1,284.81 an ounce at 1435 GMT, down 0.2 percent. Prices peaked on Tuesday at $1,288.64 an ounce, their highest since early November.

“The further deterioration in the U.S. relationship with Russia and North Korea this week has supported the prices of precious metals,” Capital Economics said in a weekly note.

“A weaker dollar, in light of President Trump’s comments about the risk to the U.S. economy from a rise in the dollar, has also helped to boost the price of gold.”

The world’s biggest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, New York-listed SPDR Gold Shares, said its holdings rose more than six tonnes on Thursday, its biggest one-day inflow in a month, as investors bought into the metal.

The dollar nursed losses on Friday, heading for its first losing week in three, as continuing tensions in North Korea underpinned currencies seen as safer, such as the Japanese yen.

China said on Friday tension over its neighbour North Korea had to be stopped from reaching an “irreversible and unmanageable stage”, as a U.S. aircraft carrier group headed for the region.

Uncertainty over U.S. President Donald Trump’s policy towards North Korea, which has conducted missile and nuclear tests in defiance of sanctions, have been growing since the U.S. Navy fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield last week.

“It’s very hard to decide which direction gold will go right now,” one trader with a Shanghai-based bullion bank said. “If Trump is to perform some military action against North Korea, gold will definitely reach $1,300.”

Adding to political concerns, the U.S. military said on Thursday that it dropped the largest non-nuclear device it has ever used in combat on a network of caves and tunnels used by Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan.

Silver was up 0.1 percent at $18.52 an ounce, after touching a five-month high of $18.599 in the previous session.

Platinum was up 0.2 percent at $971.15 and palladium was 0.1 percent higher at $795.08.

Additional reporting by Swati Verma in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Susan Thomas

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