March 31, 2017 / 4:03 AM / 8 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold set for best quarter in a year on political uncertainty

    * Spot gold on track for best quarter since Jan-March 2016
    * Silver off highs hit in previous session
    * Platinum heads for worst month since August 2016
    * Palladium has risen over 16 percent this quarter
    * GRAPHIC-2017 asset returns:   tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

 (Updates prices, adds details)
    By Arpan Varghese
    March 31 (Reuters) - Gold remained steady on Friday with
global political uncertainty, the upcoming elections in Europe
in particular, seen supporting prices of the yellow metal,
driving the metal to its best quarter in a year.
    Spot gold        was little changed at $1,242.90 per ounce
at 0716 GMT. It was on track to finish March down about 0.5
percent, its first monthly decline this year. 
    However, spot prices were set for their best quarter since
the quarter ended March last year, gaining about 8 percent.
    "In the short term, factors including a strengthening dollar
could pull prices down to around the $1,230 an ounce range,"
said Yuichi Ikemizu, head of commodity trading at Standard Bank
in Tokyo.
    "However, the fundamentals are still bullish for gold,
especially with the upcoming elections in France and elsewhere
in Europe. So prices are not really expected to go much lower
from here"
    U.S. gold futures         fell 0.2 percent to $1,242. 
    Spot gold may fall into the range of $1,235-$1,236 per
ounce, as suggested by its wave pattern and a Fibonacci ratio
analysis, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.
            
    The dollar index        was up 0.1 percent at 100.51, near a
two-week high hit earlier in the session, supported by solid
U.S. economic data.       
    U.S. economic growth slowed less than previously reported in
the fourth quarter as robust consumer spending provided a boost
that was partially offset by the largest gain in imports in two
years.             
    The greenback was further supported by comments from New
York Federal Reserve President William Dudley on Thursday that
reinforced the notion that core U.S. central bankers are
confidently on the road to tighter monetary policy after having
hiked interest rates twice in three months.             
    Meanwhile, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's
largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, which is seen as a
gauge of investment sentiment, reported an outflow of 1.2 tonnes
on Thursday.           
    However, the potential for the rise of the far right in
European elections this year, along with British Prime Minister
Theresa May formally triggering divorce proceedings from the EU
on Wednesday is seen enhancing gold's appeal as a safe-haven
investment.
    Spot silver        rose 0.1 percent to $18.09 per ounce,
having touched $18.29, in the previous session, its highest in
four weeks.
    Platinum        rose 0.3 percent to $945.80 per ounce, after
hitting its lowest in just over two weeks at $941 earlier in the
session. The metal was also set to end the month about 7.6
percent lower, which would mark its worst monthly performance
since August 2016.
    Palladium        eased 0.2 percent to $792.43 an ounce and
has risen over 16 percent this quarter.

 (Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard
Pullin and Amrutha Gayathri)
  

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