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PRECIOUS-Gold pares losses as dollar comes off seven-week high

    * Fed comments dominate as Trump offers no detail on
stimulus
    * Focus shifts to Fed Chair Janet Yellen's Friday speech
    * Dollar index pares gains after tapping seven-week high

 (New throughout, updates prices, market activity and comments,
adds second byline, NEW YORK dateline)
    By Marcy Nicholson and Maytaal Angel
    NEW YORK/LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - Gold gave back most of
its losses on Wednesday as the dollar pared gains and bullion
shrugged off earlier pressure from U.S. Federal Reserve
officials' comments that raised expectations of an interest rate
hike in March.
    New York Fed President William Dudley, one of the most
influential U.S. central bankers, said the case for tightening
monetary policy had become "a lot more compelling," while San
Francisco Fed President John Williams said he saw "no need to
delay" raising rates.             
    Spot gold        was down 0.1 percent at $1,246.83 an ounce
by 2:12 p.m. EST (1912 GMT), heading for a third straight day of
losses. The metal hit its highest since Nov. 11 at $1,263.80 on
Feb. 27.
    U.S. gold futures         settled down 0.3 percent at
$1,250.
    The perceived probability of a March rate hike jumped to
67.5 percent from roughly 30 percent after the Fed officials'
comments on Tuesday, according to Thomson Reuters data.
    "The initial reaction was a major sell-off. A lot of people
are skeptical over how the percent changed drastically," said
Phillip Streible, senior commodities broker for RJO Futures in
Chicago, referring to geopolitical risks.
    "Now people are digesting the information and looking at
some of the outside developments."
    Rising U.S. interest rates increase the opportunity cost of
holding non-yielding gold, while boosting the dollar.
    Data on Wednesday showed U.S. consumer price inflation
jumped 0.4 percent in January, the largest increase since
February 2013, while consumer spending increased 0.2 percent.
            
    "Fed Chair Yellen will be giving a speech on Friday. If
Yellen's remarks also point to a rate hike in the near future,
this will weigh on the gold price," Commerzbank said in a note.
    Expectations that President Donald Trump would give details
on U.S. stimulus plans on Tuesday were largely disappointed, as
he failed again to provide detail on tax reform and
infrastructure spending.             
    The speech did, however, contrast with the harsher rhetoric
investors have come to expect, tempting some into riskier assets
and knocking gold's appeal as a safe haven.
    The dollar        index climbed to a seven-week high but
later pared losses.
    India's February gold imports surged more than 82 percent
from a year ago as consumers ramped up purchases for weddings,
provisional data from consultancy GFMS showed.             
    Spot silver        rose 0.6 percent at $18.40 an ounce,
platinum        fell 1.1 percent at $1,012.25 and palladium
       gained 0.9 percent at $775.75.

 (Additional reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru;
Editing by David Gregorio and James Dalgleish)
  
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