PRECIOUS-Gold firms as dollar retreats from near 9-month high

* Dollar index pulls back from earlier near 9-month high
    * No.1 gold ETF sees biggest 1-day outflow since April 2013
GRAPHIC-2016 asset returns:

 (Updates prices, adds comment)
    By Jan Harvey
    LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Gold rose on Monday as the dollar
retreated from an earlier near nine-month high, though
uncertainty over the timing of a U.S. interest rate hike kept
prices hemmed in a range.
    Signs of improving physical demand in major Asian consumers
helped underpin the metal after it snapped three weeks of losses
last week to rise 1.3 percent, analysts said. 
    Spot gold was at $1,271.11 an ounce by 1340 GMT, up
0.4 percent, while U.S. gold futures for December
delivery were down $4.30 an ounce at $1,272.00.
    "The weaker U.S. dollar certainly contributes to the price
strength," Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch said. "The gold
price already showed relative strength recently. It did not fall
despite a stronger dollar and news of massive ETF outflows on
    The U.S. currency retreated on Monday, after rallying
against a currency basket in early trade on expectations the Fed
will raise interest rates this year, and a receding chance of
Donald Trump becoming U.S. president. 
    Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates,
which increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding
bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.
    Third-quarter growth figures from the United States and Fed
policymakers' speeches due this week will be closely watched for
clues on a possible interest rate hike.      
    Investment interest in gold showed signs of softening last
week. U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on
Friday hedge funds and money managers cut their net long
positions in COMEX gold for a third week in the week to Oct. 18.
    The world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR
Gold Shares, reported its biggest one-day outflow since
April 2013 on Friday, of 16.6 tonnes. 
    "Over the last three weeks we've had very much a rangebound
environment," Mitsubishi analyst Jonathan Butler said. "The
strength of the dollar, which is a negative factor for gold, is
in large part responsible for that. On the other side, physical
demand in Asia has at least given some price support."
    "We have the November Fed meeting on the horizon, and the
U.S. election - those are the two big macro events," Butler
added. "But with a Democratic election victory, and no move on
rates in November, nothing really changes for gold." 
    Silver was up 2 percent at $17.83 an ounce, while
platinum was 1.6 percent higher at $944.50 an ounce,
having touched its lowest since Feb. 29 at $921.20 in the
previous session.
    Palladium, which hit a more than three-month low of
$613.10 in the previous session, was up 0.2 percent at $625.15.

 (Additional reporting by Apeksha Nair and Nallur Sethuraman in
Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Thomas and David Evans)