* Drops in stock markets, dollar, oil prices lift gold
* Biggest gold ETF set for second straight weekly inflow
* Coming up: U.S. Federal Reserve meeting Dec. 16-17
By Marcy Nicholson and Jan Harvey
NEW YORK/LONDON, Dec 12 Gold edged lower on
Friday as some buyers cashed in recent gains, but the metal had
its biggest weekly rise in two months as the dollar retreated
and sliding oil prices hurt risk appetite.
Gold was up 2.5 percent this week after Tuesday's big rally.
Falling stock markets have prompted some investors to buy the
metal as an alternative asset, while a drop in the greenback
made dollar-priced bullion cheaper for holders of other
"When the equity markets dropped quite sharply, precious
metals soared, so there is definitely still the link between
equities and gold in particular (due to) risk appetite among
market players," Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann said.
"Some of the equity markets had a decent run this year. We
don't expect this to be continued to the same extent next year,
so this might give some tailwind to gold prices."
Spot gold was down 0.5 percent at $1,221.66 an ounce
by 3:38 p.m. EST (2038 GMT), while U.S. gold futures for
February delivery settled down 0.3 percent at $1,222.50, but
were up 2.7 percent for the week.
The spot market briefly fell as much as 1 percent to
$1,215.60 after a survey showed U.S. consumer sentiment rose in
December to a new eight-year high.
"What we're looking at here is better retail sales," said
Eli Tesfaye, senior market strategist for RJO Futures in
"These better numbers basically are going to bolster the
case for the Federal Reserve to be more hawkish going forward.
That's never good news for gold."
The dollar index was down 0.4 percent, and European
stocks slid more than 2 percent, with further declines in the
price of oil hitting energy shares and political concerns over
Greece also curbing risk appetite.
European shares posted their biggest weekly loss since
mid-2011, while U.S. stocks also fell, putting the benchmark S&P
500 on track for its first weekly decline in eight.
The improved sentiment toward gold showed in the holdings of
the world's top bullion-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold
Trust, which rose 0.13 percent to 725.75 tonnes on
Thursday, up nearly 5 tonnes this week.
That marks the second straight week of inflows and the
biggest weekly increase in its holdings since early July.
Among other precious metals, silver was down 0.5
percent at $17.00 an ounce, while spot platinum fell 1.1
percent to $1,224.50. Spot palladium was down 0.7 percent
(Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore;
Editing by Dale Hudson, Marguerita Choy and Lisa Von Ahn)