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PRECIOUS-Spot gold targets biggest weekly loss in four months

* Newcrest hedges some of Telfer gold production
    * Gold starting to find benefit from inflation hedge
investment
    * Coming up: U.S. durable goods orders at 1230 GMT

 (Adds comment, detail; updates prices)
    By Melanie Burton
    MELBOURNE, March 24 (Reuters) - Spot gold steadied on
Thursday, but was still facing its biggest weekly loss since
early November after slipping around 2 percent in the previous
session as hawkish comments by Federal Reserve officials stoked
a recovery in the dollar.
    The comments put investors on guard for the possibility of
more U.S. interest rate hikes this year than currently
anticipated, triggering a widespread correction across
commodities. Oil plunged 4 percent, while copper cracked
below $5,000 a tonne.
    Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said the central
bank should consider another hike as early as next month if the
U.S. economy continues to improve, while Chicago Fed President
Charles Evans also said he expects two more rate increases this
year.     
    The move pushed investors to cut long positions, said
Triland in a note, with further consolidation looking likely. 
    "Sentiment may have gained traction fairly sharply over
previous months however the fundamentals are yet to turn a
corner ... It's a tough call to the upside until we break $1,286
and $1,308."
    Spot gold was little changed at $1,218.30, down 0.1
percent by 0103 GMT. Gold on Wednesday fell as low as $1,215 an
ounce, its weakest since Feb. 26 and was on track for a
2.9-percent weekly loss ahead of the Easter holiday break which
starts on Friday. 
    U.S. gold slipped 0.4 percent to $1,218.80.
    New U.S. single-family home sales rebounded modestly in
February as a surge in the West offset sharp declines in other
regions, pointing to a gradually improving housing sector amid a
dearth of properties available on the market. 
    "Gold is starting to benefit from a revival of demand for
inflation hedges, offsetting at least some of the downside risks
from renewed strength in the U.S. dollar," said Capital
Economics in a note.  
    "What's more, silver is now exceptionally cheap relative to
gold, particularly if the prices of industrial metals recover
further."
    Silver traded up 0.2 percent at $15.25. Platinum
 was little changed at $956 an ounce, while palladium
 slid half a percent to $576.60.      
    Oil prices tumbled 4 percent on Wednesday, with U.S crude
settling below the key $40 per barrel mark after a sixth
straight week of record highs in stockpiles that traders warned
could cut short the market's two-month long rally. 
    Meanwhile, Newcrest Mining said it has partially
hedged future gold production at its Telfer gold mine in Western
Australia and that it may hedge more in the future. 
   


 (Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin and
Joseph Radford)
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