PRECIOUS-Gold begins 2018 on a firmer note on strong technicals

    Jan 2 (Reuters) - Gold prices hit over 3-month highs on
Tuesday, supported by technical factors after the precious metal
broke through strong resistance last week.
    * Spot gold        rose 0.2 percent to $1,305 an ounce at
0114 GMT, having hit its highest since Sept. 26 at $1,307.63
earlier in the session.
    * Gold benefited from technically driven momentum after
closing above its 100-day moving average last week and breaching
strong resistance at $1,300 on Friday.
    * U.S. gold futures         inched down 0.2 percent
to$1,307.20 an ounce. 
    * Spot gold rose 13 percent last year to mark its best year
since 2010. 
    * Gold's gains coincide with the greenback, in which gold is
priced, sliding toward its worst year since 2003 last week,
damaged by tensions over North Korea, the Russian scandal
surrounding U.S. President Donald Trump's election campaign, and
persistently low U.S. inflation. 
    * The dollar remained out of favour having hit a three-month
low against a basket of its peers        on Friday. That brought
its losses for 2017 to 9.8 percent, its worse performance since
    * U.S. Mint sales of American Eagle gold and silver coins
dropped to their lowest in 10 years in 2017, U.S. Mint data
showed on Friday.             
    * Hedge funds and money managers raised their net long
position in COMEX gold for the second straight week in the week
to Dec. 26, and cut their net short position in silver slightly,
U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.
    * A rally in gold prices to the highest level in a month and
the year-end holiday mood dampened demand across Asia last week.

 (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; editing by
Richard Pullin)