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PRECIOUS-Gold climbs after Fed gives no clear signal on rates

* Gold tops $1,225/oz to reach highest since November
    * No.1 gold ETF reports biggest one-day inflow since Oct
    * GRAPHIC-2017 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

 (Updates prices; adds comment, second byline, NEW YORK
dateline)
    By Marcy Nicholson and Jan Harvey
    NEW YORK/LONDON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose to an
11-week high on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve gave no
clear signal on the likelihood of a March interest rate increase
in its latest statement, prompting another drop in the U.S.
dollar.
    The U.S. currency slipped to the lowest since
mid-November against a basket of currencies, but gold pared
gains as the dollar turned positive later in the session. 
    Spot gold struck its highest level since Nov. 17 at
$1,225.30 an ounce, and was up 0.6 percent at $1,216.10 by 2:22
p.m. EST (1922 GMT). U.S. gold futures for April delivery
settled up 0.9 percent at $1,219.40.
    "Gold... successfully traded through its resistance at
$1,220," Heraeus trader Alexander Zumpfe said. "If it closes
above there, the short-term uptrend is back and a test of $1,235
might be on the cards."
    The weakening dollar was the main factor driving gold
higher, along with concerns about political risk, said Afshin
Nabavi, head of trading at MKS. 
    "Gold has benefited on the back of yesterday's FOMC meeting
and recent U.S. policy statements," said RBC Capital Markets in
a research note.
    "Overall, this provides further support to our view that
gold is likely best bought as a risk overlay this year. We are
not necessarily a buyer at current levels and prefer buying on
likely dips."
    U.S. non-farm payroll data for January will be closely
watched on Friday. The report is seen as a key barometer of the
health of the U.S. economy and will be examined for signs that
growth is strong enough to support further interest rate hikes.
     Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. rates, which
increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion
while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.
    Investors' interest in gold rose after the U.S. currency
suffered its worst January in 30 years. The world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Shares,
reported its biggest one-day inflow in nearly four months on
Wednesday, of 10.7 tonnes. 
    That has helped to support gold despite the absence of many
Asian buyers because of the Lunar New Year holiday this week.
    "The sharp rebound after a pull down below $1,200 and the
Asian pricing model, despite the Chinese New Year, seem
favorable," said Spencer Campbell, general manager with Kaloti
Precious Metals in Singapore. "We see a lot of bullish signals."
    Among other precious metals, silver was down 0.3
percent at $17.46 an ounce, while platinum was up 0.10
percent at $997.
    Palladium was 0.7 percent at $756.98.

    
 (Additional reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru;
editing by Richard Lough)
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