December 22, 2017 / 1:27 AM / 7 months ago

Gold prices hover below 2-week high, set for second weekly gain

(Reuters) - Gold prices held steady below a two-week high in thin pre-holiday trade on Friday amid firmer equities and a sturdy dollar, remaining on track to log a second consecutive week of gains.

An employee sorts gold bars in the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna, Austria, December 15, 2017. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/Files

Spot gold was steady at $1,267.08 an ounce at 0703 GMT, after hitting its highest since Dec. 6 at $1,268.91 in the previous session. It was up 0.95 percent for the week.

U.S. gold futures were unchanged at $1,270.40 an ounce.

“(We are seeing) normal market activity ahead of the holiday weekend. Expect some profit-taking to be seen from bargain-hunters who bought at the start of the week at the $1,254 level,” said Mun Chun Loh, director of private wealth at GoldSilver Central Pte Ltd in Singapore.

The dollar edged up on Friday though it remained on track for weekly losses, while the euro slumped after Catalan vote results indicated a victory for separatists in a blow to Madrid.

“The market’s a bit flat due to the holidays and there seems to be some kind of uncertainty around,” said Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.

The U.S. Congress on Thursday averted a government shutdown just one day before federal funding was due to expire, sending Trump a bill to provide just enough money to keep agencies operating through Jan. 19.

The greenback was also supported as Congress had approved the biggest overhaul of the country’s tax code in 30 years, which was expected to give at least a short-term lift to economic growth.

Asian stocks edged up on Friday as upbeat data pointed to steady growth in the U.S. economy.

“Under the tax reform, people are waiting to see if it’s good for the U.S economy in the coming months ... people don’t want to do anything about it for the time being,” Leung said.

“Next week as well, unless there’s an exciting event, I think we’ll be quiet,” he said, adding support for the yellow metal comes in around $1,260 an ounce and resistance near $1,270.

The Moscow Exchange will launch deliverable futures for gold in 2018 in a move to further prop up bullion market liquidity, bourse chief executive Alexander Afanasiev said on Thursday.

In other precious metals, Palladium was up 0.2 percent at $1,039.50 an ounce, trading at its highest level since February, 2001.

Silver rose 0.5 percent to $16.17 an ounce, and platinum was 0.4-percent lower at $911.50 an ounce.

All three of those precious metals were on track to gain for a second week in a row.

Reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Joseph Radford

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