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PRECIOUS-Spot gold slips as dollar gains dampen safe-haven trade

* Stronger dollar drags on bullion prices
    * Gold's safe-haven appeal swells slightly after Brussels
attacks
    * Coming up: U.S. new home sales at 1400 GMT

 (Adds comment, detail; updates prices)
    By Melanie Burton
    MELBOURNE, March 23 (Reuters) - Spot gold edged lower on
Wednesday, with the impact of a stronger dollar outweighing a
slight swell in the metal's safe-haven appeal after attacks on
an airport and a rush-hour metro train in Brussels. 
    Overnight news of attacks in Brussels, and hawkish comments
from another U.S. Federal Reserve official have underpinned the
U.S. currency, while a rising U.S. rate path has dampened gold's
investment appeal. 
    "Particularly in the U.S., this slow normalisation of the
economy should result in a grind higher in real interest rates
and cap the attractiveness of precious metals as an investment,"
BMI Research said in a note. 
    Higher interest rates increase holding costs of gold, which
is a non-interest bearing asset. 
    Spot gold had slipped 0.4 percent to $1,243.60 an
ounce by 0208 GMT, with trade expected to wind down ahead of the
Easter holidays which start on Friday. Prices have been trading
in a narrowing band of $1,240-$1,270 for the past week.  
    U.S. gold also slipped 0.4 percent to $1244.20.
    Venezuela exported about 443 million Swiss francs ($456
million) worth of gold to Switzerland in February, data showed
on Tuesday, as the South American country's central bank carried
out swaps to receive cash due to a biting economic crisis.
    The arrest of an Iranian gold trader whom Turkish
prosecutors placed at the heart of a Turkish government graft
scandal two years ago hit shares in a state-run bank on Tuesday
and raised opposition hopes that new light would be shed on a
case it said was covered up. 
    Switzerland became a net importer of platinum once again in
February, data from the Swiss customs bureau showed on Tuesday,
as shipments from major producer South Africa ticked up.
    Platinum was trading down 0.2 percent at $986.50,
while palladium dropped 0.8 percent to $598.48 an ounce.

 (Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford)
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