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PRECIOUS-Gold rises on dovish Fed; poised for best quarter in nearly 30 yrs

SINGAPORE, March 31 (Reuters) - Gold ticked up on Thursday,
helped by a softer dollar and Federal Reserve Chair Janet
Yellen's caution over higher U.S. interest rates, but gains were
capped by a rally in global equities.
    The metal was set to record its strongest three-month
performance in nearly 30 years in the first quarter, bolstered
by safe-haven demand. 
    
    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold had risen 0.2 percent to $1,226.66 an
ounce by 0045 GMT.
    * The metal had gained nearly 2 percent on Tuesday
immediately after Yellen's dovish remarks, but fell 1.4 percent
the following session as stronger equities triggered
profit-taking.
    * Asian shares climbed on Thursday, taking early cues from
Wall Street gains overnight, as receding worries of near-term
U.S. interest rate hikes continued to buoy risk sentiment. The
dollar hovered near seven-week lows versus the euro. 
  
    * Yellen said on Tuesday the U.S. central bank should
proceed only cautiously as it looks to raise interest rates.
 
    * The comments boosted sentiment with investors, who had
sold off equities after some Fed officials said recently that
another rate hike could be just around the corner. The Fed
raised rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade.
    * Gold as a non-interest yielding asset benefits from lower
rates. 
    * For the quarter, gold has gained 15.6 percent, its best
such performance since the third quarter of 1986.
    * Gold prices rallied at the beginning of the year as
worries over global economic growth and a slowdown in China
shook up stock markets, triggering safe-haven demand for the
yellow metal. Receding rate hike expectations also helped.
    * Assets in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's top
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell for a second straight
session to 819.28 tonnes on Wednesday. Holdings are still near
their highest in over two years.     
    * For the top stories on metals and other news, click
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    DATA AHEAD (GMT)
    0600 Germany Retail sales Feb 
    0645 France Consumer spending Feb 
    0755 Germany Unemployment rate Mar 
    0830 Britain GDP Q4 
    0900 Euro zone Inflation Mar 
    1230 U.S. Weekly jobless claims 
    1345 U.S. Chicago PMI Mar
    
    PRICES AT 0045 GMT    
 Metal            Last     Change   Pct chg
                                            
 Spot gold        1226.66     2.21      0.18
 Spot silver       15.255    0.053      0.35
 Spot platinum     965.33     5.83      0.61
 Spot palladium    562.75     0.75      0.13
 Comex gold        1227.3      0.4      0.03
 Comex silver       15.26    0.049      0.32
                                            
 COMEX gold and silver contracts show the
 most active months
 
    

 (Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Joseph Radford)
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