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PRECIOUS-Gold hits near six-week highs ahead of Fed statement, Brexit vote

* Two-day Fed meeting begins
    * Brexit fears weigh on sterling, euro
    * Silver hits fresh one-month high
    * Coming up: FOMC statement Wednesday at 2 p.m. EDT (1800
GMT)

 (Updates prices; adds comment, second byline, NEW YORK
dateline)
    By Marcy Nicholson and Clara Denina 
    NEW YORK/LONDON, June 14 (Reuters) - Gold hit its highest in
almost six weeks on Tuesday, rising on worries about a potential
British exit from the European Union and expectations the U.S.
Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates at its June
meeting. 
    Spot gold rose as high as $1,289.80 an ounce earlier
and was up 0.1 percent at $1,285.06 an ounce by 2:51 p.m. EDT
(1851 GMT). 
    U.S. gold futures settled up 0.1 percent at $1,288.10
an ounce.
    Gold priced in sterling hit a near three-year
high of 913.09 pounds as the British currency fell to its lowest
in eight weeks.
    Gold could get a further boost if a vote by Britain to leave
the 28-member group, dubbed "Brexit", pushes Europe back into a
recession, analysts said. 
    "The Brexit vote is obviously key to gold's appreciation
because of the polling suggesting the 'Leave' campaign is
gathering momentum, creating uncertainty over the outcome," ETF
Securities analyst Martin Arnold said.
    Polls and bookmakers' odds showed a rising chance of Brexit
in the June 23 referendum as Britain's largest tabloid
newspaper, the Sun, also said it was backing a "Leave" vote.
  
    Bullion, which is often perceived as a hedge against
economic and financial uncertainty, has been driven by rising
investor risk aversion before central bank meetings this week.
    The Federal Reserve is expected to keep interest rates on
hold for at least another month in a two-day meeting that began
on Tuesday. 
    "The second thing is the Fed meeting today and tomorrow ...
and as long as the Fed is unclear with the timing of the rate
hike, that's a good environment for gold," Arnold said.
    Gold is sensitive to interest rates changes, with increases
mostly signaling a rise in the opportunity cost of holding the
non-interest yielding metal.
    "The 'no hike' is likely being priced in but we could see
gold hit the $1,300 level prior to a correction on the way to
the next level of resistance at $1,400," said Mark O'Byrne,
director of Dublin-based gold dealer GoldCore.
    The Bank of England, Swiss National Bank and the Bank of
Japan will also meet this week, and are expected to hold
monetary policies steady given caution about the global economic
outlook.
    On Monday, holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's
largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose to the highest
since October 2013. 
    Spot silver fell 0.2 percent to $17.39 per ounce,
after touching a one-month high of $17.48. 
    Spot platinum was down 1.4 percent at $971.06, while
palladium fell 01.7 percent to $530.89. 

 (Additional reporting by Koustav Samanta in Bengaluru; Editing
by Ruth Pitchford, Louise Heavens and Bill Rigby)
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