PRECIOUS-Gold extends rally after Fed minutes as stocks tumble

Thu Apr 10, 2014 3:40pm EDT

* Fear of Fed rate hike pushed further into future

* S&P dives 2 pct, lower US Treasury yields help gold

* Chinese gold prices back at discount to spot

* Coming up: US producer price index Friday (Updates market activities)

By Frank Tang and Clara Denina

NEW YORK/LONDON, April 10 (Reuters) - Gold rose to its highest price in more than two weeks on Thursday, boosted by a sharp pullback in U.S. equities and follow-through buying a day after minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting revealed its cautious approach in future interest-rate hikes.

Gold came uncoupled in the afternoon from U.S. equities, stalling even as the S&P 500 index accelerated losses. The S&P, which fell 2 percent for the day, has given back all its gains to turn negative for the year.

The yellow metal largely ignored data signalling a stronger U.S. job market, with the number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits tumbling last week to the lowest level in nearly seven years.

Analysts said gold buying accelerated following Wednesday's Fed minutes, which showed officials fretted last month that investors would overreact to policymakers' fresh forecasts on interest rates that appeared to map out a more aggressive cycle of rate hikes than was actually anticipated.

"It changed the dynamic of the gold market because now the fear of Fed raising rates has been pushed back further into the future," said Phillip Streible, senior commodities broker at RJ O'Brien.

Spot gold was up 0.6 percent at $1,319.65 an ounce by 2:52 p.m. EDT (1852 GMT), having earlier hit $1,324.40, its highest since March 24.

U.S. COMEX gold futures for June delivery settled up$14.60 to $1,320.50 an ounce, with trading volume about 35 percent below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.

Gold prices had come under pressure, falling to a seven-week low of $1,277.90 on April 1, on signs that strong U.S. economic data could prompt further dollar strengthening and comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen on March 19 that interest rates could rise in the first half of 2015.

On Thursday, U.S. 10-year Treasury yields dropped toward 2.6 percent. Returns from U.S. bonds are closely watched by the gold market, given that the metal pays no interest.

Prices in top buyer China slipped back to a discount of about $2 an ounce on London prices on Thursday from a premium in the previous session.

Also reflecting weak physical demand, gold stocks sitting in U.S. exchange warehouses are at a 10-month high.

Among other precious metals, silver rose 1.1 percent to $20.07 an ounce. Platinum rose 1.4 percent to $1,455 an ounce, having earlier reached a three-week high of $1,459 an ounce and palladium gained 1.3 percent to $788.50 an ounce. 2:52 PM EST LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT

SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold JUN 1320.50 14.60 1.1 1311.00 1324.90 117,322 US Silver MAY 20.091 0.321 1.6 19.860 20.400 57,964 US Plat JUL 1460.10 21.20 1.5 1441.20 1462.00 8,693 US Pall JUN 792.30 9.75 1.2 779.90 794.50 4,225 Gold 1319.65 8.25 0.6 1311.38 1324.40 Silver 20.070 0.220 1.1 19.890 20.360 Platinum 1455.00 20.10 1.4 1443.40 1459.00 Palladium 788.50 10.20 1.3 780.35 792.50 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY

CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 122,930 196,679 182,829 15.32 -0.24 US Silver 77,204 47,540 58,405 22.66 0.35 US Platinum 8,730 15,664 12,483 17.15 -0.45 US Palladium 4,424 5,602 5,834 27.94 -1.88 (Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; editing by Peter Galloway and Alden Bentley)

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