* Weak dollar, tensions over Ukraine, lend support
* Gold posts 3 pct weekly gain
* SPDR Gold ETF sees inflows on market uncertainty
By Frank Tang and Clara Denina
NEW YORK/LONDON, March 14 Gold rose to a
six-month high on Friday as investors turned to bullion as a
safe-haven from East-West tensions before a vote planned for
Sunday on whether Ukraine's Crimea region should join Russia.
Moscow shipped more troops and armor into Crimea on Friday
and repeated its threat to invade other parts of Ukraine,
showing no sign of heeding Western pleas to back off from a Cold
Russia's stock markets tumbled and the cost of insuring its
debt soared on the last day of trading before pro-Moscow
authorities in Crimea hold a referendum on joining Russia, a
move all but certain to lead to U.S. and European Union
sanctions on Monday.
"There are people here with possible concerns that you will
see a heavy price spike (in gold) if this vote does go in," said
Thomas Capalbo, a precious metals trader at Newedge, a brokerage
in New York. "Gold is up on situational buying."
Spot gold rose as much as 1.4 percent to its highest
level since Sept. 9 at $1,387.90 an ounce early in the session
before it later pared gains.
U.S. gold futures settled up $6.60 at $1,379 an
ounce, with trading volume about 30 percent above its 30-day
average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
The metal has gained 3 percent this week, also helped by
China's first corporate bond default and fears of slowdown in
the world's second-largest economy.
Gold was also supported by Friday's data showing U.S.
consumer sentiment weakened in early March.
The market was awaiting the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy
meeting on March 18-19. The central bank is expected to announce
another $10 billion cut to its bond-buying stimulus.
U.S. economic data showing that growth has been hurt by
severe cold weather has recently hit the dollar, which fell 0.2
percent against a basket of currencies after weak U.S. producer
prices on Friday.
Global uncertainties sent investors looking for gold, with
holdings in SPDR Gold Trust - the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund - rising 2.1 tonnes to 813.30
tonnes on Thursday.
Among other precious metals, silver followed gold's
moves, with a 1 percent increase to $21.35 an ounce. Platinum
was down 0.6 percent at $1,463 an ounce, while palladium
fell 0.5 percent to $769.50 an ounce.
2:31 PM EST LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT
SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL
US Gold APR 1379.00 6.60 0.5 1368.20 1388.40 168,476
US Silver MAY 21.413 0.215 1.0 21.140 21.795 46,958
US Plat APR 1469.60 -9.80 -0.7 1468.50 1487.10 10,741
US Pall JUN 773.25 -5.70 -0.7 768.15 788.45 5,189
Gold 1376.65 6.66 0.5 1368.33 1387.90
Silver 21.350 0.220 1.0 21.160 21.760
Platinum 1463.00 -8.50 -0.6 1469.00 1483.50
Palladium 769.50 -3.50 -0.5 769.50 785.00
TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY
CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG
US Gold 192,293 158,258 184,477 18.04 0.75
US Silver 49,603 75,948 58,049 26.77 0.09
US Platinum 13,335 12,794 13,107 18.37 -0.09
US Palladium 5,218 8,169 5,679 20.83 0.61