April 21, 2017 / 1:25 AM / 4 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold firm on tensions ahead of French election

    April 21 (Reuters) - Gold held steady on Friday, after
rising 0.2 percent in the prior session, with tensions
surrounding upcoming French elections on Sunday underpinning the
safe-haven demand.
    
    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold        was unchanged at $1,281.21 per ounce as
of 0059 GMT. 
    * U.S. gold futures         were also flat at $1,282.80
    * Polls ahead of the two-round French presidential vote,
which begins this weekend, give both far-right and far-left
candidates a chance of making it into next month's run-off,
though centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron is shown in the lead.
            
    * Security concerns took centre stage on Friday in the last
days of France's tight presidential race in the wake of a
shooting in Paris which killed one policeman.             
    * The Trump administration had a simple but stark message
for world financial leaders who gathered in Washington on
Thursday amid worries about rising U.S. protectionism: fair
trade means tit-for-tat tariffs.             
    * New applications for U.S. jobless benefits rose slightly
more than expected last week, but a drop in the number of
Americans on unemployment rolls to a 17-year low suggested the
labour market continues to tighten.             
    * Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan said on
Thursday that two more interest rate hikes this year remains
possible but that the U.S. central bank has the flexibility to
wait and see how the economy unfolds.             
    * Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.76
percent to 854.25 tonnes on Thursday from Wednesday.
    * Australian-Canadian miner OceanaGold Corp          said on
Thursday that El Salvador has no legal basis for restricting its
unit in the Central American country while it evaluates next
steps in a dispute over extraction rights.             
    *  Russia's central bank, which is seeking to diversify the
country's official reserves, posted an increase in its gold
reserves in March for the third consecutive month.             
    * Gold prices in India were at a premium this week as
jewellers raised purchases ahead of a key festival, while higher
prices kept bullion demand in check elsewhere in Asia.
            

    
    DATA AHEAD  (GMT)
     0700  France   Markit manufacturing flash PMI      Apr 
     0730  Germany  Markit manufacturing flash PMI      Apr 
     0800  Euro zone Markit manufacturing flash PMI     Apr 
     0800  Euro zone Markit services flash PMI          Apr 
     0830  Britain Retail sales                         Mar 
     1345  U.S. Markit manufacturing flash PMI          Apr 
     1345  U.S. Markit services flash PMI               Apr 
     1400  U.S. Existing home sales                     Mar 
     1400  G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors 
           meeting in Washington (to April 22) 

 (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in BENGALURU; Editing by
Kenneth Maxwell)
  

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