PRECIOUS-Gold hits near seven-week high as dollar, stocks slip

    * Dollar hits seven-month low against basket of currencies
    * Palladium hits fresh high since Sept. 2014
    * Silver marks highest since April 25

 (Updates prices, adds quote)
    By Vijaykumar Vedala
    BENGALURU, June 6 (Reuters) - Gold touched its highest in
near seven weeks on Tuesday as Asian stock markets and the
dollar weakened ahead of a UK national election and a European
Central Bank meeting due later this week. 
    James Comey, former head of the U.S. Federal Bureau of
Investigation, is due to appear before a Senate committee for
the first time on Thursday. Comey was fired by President Donald
Trump in May while leading a probe into alleged Russian meddling
in last year's U.S. election.              
    The events all have the potential to boost the safe-haven
appeal of bullion, which is often used as an investment option
during times of political and financial uncertainty. 
    "Much will, of course, depend on the U.S. dollar. However, 
with event risk in the form of this Thursday's ECB rate decision
and the UK general election, one would expect the safe haven bid
to be alive and well as the week progresses," said Jeffrey
Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA. 
    Spot gold        rose 0.8 percent to $1,289.20 per ounce, as
of 0805 GMT. Earlier in the session, it hit a peak of $1,289.67
an ounce, its highest level since April 19. 
    U.S. gold futures         climbed 0.7 percent to $1,291.8 an
    "Generally light positioning and numerous upcoming
geopolitical events should continue to underpin demand for the
metal, with targets extending to the 2017 high around $1,295 and
the psychological level of $1,300 above this," Sam Laughlin,
senior precious metals trader at MKS, said in a note.
    In Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May's lead over the
opposition Labour Party has narrowed to just 1 percentage point,
according to a poll by Survation for ITV television on Monday. 
The vote is now expected to be much tighter than previously
    "A decent win for the incumbent should ease any geopolitical
fears. A hung parliament or a move towards the Labour Party
could lead to some uncertainty fuelling gold prices," said
National Australia Bank analyst John Sharma. 
    Meanwhile, ECB policymakers are set to take a more benign
view of the economy when they meet on Thursday and will even
discuss dropping some of their pledges to ramp up stimulus if
needed, four sources with direct knowledge of the discussions
told Reuters last week.              
    In the wider markets, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific
shares outside Japan                 fell 0.3 percent, while the
dollar index touched a seven-month low against a basket of major
    Among other precious metals, palladium        marked its
strongest since Sept. 11, 2014, at $850 an ounce, and silver
       hit a high of $17.682 an ounce, its highest since April
    Platinum        gained as much as 0.8 pct at $958.05.  

 (Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in BENGALURU, with additional
reporting by Koustav Samanta; Editing by Tom Hogue and Sherry