June 24, 2019 / 3:10 PM / 4 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold rallies to near six-year top on U.S.-Iran dispute

    * SPDR posts biggest daily percentage gain since 2008
    * Speculators increase net longs in COMEX gold
    * Spot gold prices up more than 8% this month

 (Updates prices)
    By Diptendu Lahiri
    June 24 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose more than 1 percent on
Monday to a near six-year peak as the dollar fell, with
safe-haven bullion also boosted by U.S. President Donald Trump's
announcement to impose fresh sanctions on Iran.
    Spot gold        was 1.2% higher at $1,415.16 an ounce by
01:57 p.m. EDT (1757 GMT), heading for a fifth straight session
of gains. Its session high of $1,416.84 was its highest level
since late August 2013.
    U.S. gold futures         settled up 1.3% at $1,418.20 an
ounce.
    "Gold is holding some sprawling gains from the earlier
sessions prompted by slumping dollar and increasing safe haven
demand on the back of President Trump threatening to impose new
sanctions on Iran," said Alex Turro, market strategist at RJO
Futures.
    "Gold is also getting some underlying support by the central
banks trying to cut rates." 
    Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions on Iran on Monday following
Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the
measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei.             
    Gold prices have risen over 8% this month, and about $75 an
ounce over the past week.
    "It's the strong upside momentum from last week along with
higher ETF buying and a weaker dollar boosting gold prices,"
INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said.
    Holdings of the world's largest gold-backed ETF, SPDR Gold
Trust      , jumped 4.6% on Friday from the previous day, its
biggest daily percentage gain since September 2008.          
    Helping gold's appeal, the dollar dipped, after its biggest
weekly drop since mid-February last week on bets the U.S.
Federal Reserve would start lowering interest rates as early as
next month.       
    The Fed and the European Central Bank last week hinted they
were open to easing policy to counter a global economic
slowdown, exacerbated by trade tensions.             
    Investors' eyes will be on a summit in Japan this week of
leaders from the Group of 20 leading world economies. China's
President Xi Jinping and Trump are expected to meet on the
sidelines, which could be pivotal in getting negotiations back
on track to resolve a trade war.             
    "The China-U.S. trade conflict is not getting anywhere.
Additionally, the Iranian conflict is also starting to
heat-up... That is why people are seeking gold as safe haven,"
said an analyst based in New York.
    "The climb in gold prices has woken people up. Now that gold
has broken the 1,400 level, it is expected to go up."
    Speculators also boosted their bullish stance in COMEX gold
in the week to June 18, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading
Commission said on Friday.       
    Silver        edged 0.4% higher to $15.41 per ounce and
platinum        rose 0.7% to $811.36. Palladium        climbed
2.6% to $1,539.51 an ounce.

 (Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Swati Verma in Bengaluru
Editing by Marguerita Choy, David Gregorio and Susan Thomas)
  
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