PRECIOUS-Gold dips as dollar firms on U.S. rate hike views

    * Speculators raise COMEX gold net longs in the week to Jan
    * Holdings of SPDR Gold fell 0.14 pct on Friday
    * Silver falls back from 1-1/2-month high

 (Adds comment, updates prices)
    By Sethuraman N R
    Jan 8 (Reuters) - Gold prices inched down on Monday after
the dollar firmed on expectations of further U.S. interest rate
hikes this year. 
    Spot gold        was down 0.1 percent at $1,317.60 an ounce
at 0711 GMT. Last week, the metal touched its highest since
Sept. 15 at $1,325.86. 
    Spot gold posted its fourth consecutive weekly gain last
    U.S. gold futures         slipped 0.3 percent on Monday at
$1,318.80 an ounce.     
    "January is usually a good month for gold prices and should
remain so on the anticipation of physical demand ahead of the
Chinese New Year," said Stephen Innes, APAC head of trading,
    "While there could be some downside pressure from a possible
 U.S. dollar correction, gold will likely remain firm until a
March Fed hike possibility comes on the radar," Innes said. 
    The U.S. December non-farm payrolls report on Friday was
weaker than expected, but investors reckoned the U.S. Federal
Reserve would still raise interest rates multiple times this
year, although at a gradual pace.                           
    The dollar's index against a basket of six major currencies
rose 0.2 percent to 92.155        on Monday, up from its Jan. 2
low of 91.751, which was its weakest level since Sept. 20.
    Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, as
these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding
bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.
    Meanwhile, hedge funds and money managers raised their net
long positions in COMEX gold in the week to Jan. 2, U.S.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data showed on
    Spot gold may edge up to a resistance at $1,329 per ounce
and then start a correction, as suggested by a Fibonacci
retracement analysis, according to Reuters technical analyst
Wang Tao.             
    The Chinese New Year demand is yet to pick up as the prices
are too hard to swallow," a Singapore-based trader said.
    "Prices should see $1,340 (in the near term) and if it does
not breach that gold should look to ease back below $1,300."
    Physical gold demand across Asia remained subdued last week
as prices rallied to a three-and-a-half-month high, keeping
retail buyers away from the market.             
    Among other precious metals, spot silver        inched 0.6
percent lower to $17.12 an ounce, after having hit a 1-1/2-month
high on Friday at $17.29. 
    Platinum        dipped 0.3 percent to $966.50 an ounce,
after hitting a more than 3-1/2-month top at $970.5 earlier in
the session. 
    Palladium        rose 0.5 percent to $1,096 an ounce. The
metal hit a record high of $1,105.70 last week. 

 (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom
Hogue and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)