May 17, 2017 / 1:29 AM / 3 years ago

PRECIOUS-Gold hits 2-wk high on Trump concerns, weaker US housing data

    May 17 (Reuters) - Gold prices hit a two-week high on
Wednesday as Asian stocks slipped and the dollar was pressured
after underwhelming U.S. housing data and reports that U.S.
President Donald Trump sought an end to an FBI probe into his
former security adviser.   
    * Spot gold        had climbed 0.5 percent to $1,242.92 per
ounce by 0059 GMT, after earlier touching its strongest since
May 3 at $1,244.70. It rose about 0.5 percent on Tuesday in its
biggest one-day percentage gain since April 12. 
    * U.S. gold futures         were up 0.5 percent at $1,242.90
an ounce.
    * Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to end the
agency's investigation into ties between former White House
national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia, according to
a source who has seen a memo written by Comey.             
    * The Comey memo, first reported by the New York Times,
caused alarm on Capitol Hill and raised questions about whether
Trump tried to interfere with a federal investigation. The White
House quickly denied the report.
    * The dollar nursed its losses on Wednesday after taking a
combination of punches - solid eurozone economic data, a fall in
U.S. yields on the heightened turmoil in Washington and downbeat
housing data that reduced expectations of a Federal Reserve rate
hike next month.    
    * The dollar's index against a basket of six major
currencies        was near its lowest levels since Nov. 9 and
last stood at 98.081.
    * MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
                dipped 0.2 percent.      
    * U.S. manufacturing production recorded its biggest
increase in more than three years in April, bolstering the view
that economic growth picked up early in the second quarter
despite a surprise decline in homebuilding.             
    * The U.S. economy is forecast to expand at a 4.1-percent
annualized pace in the second quarter following the release of
April figures on housing starts and industrial output, the
Atlanta Federal Reserve's GDP Now forecast model showed on
    * North Korea's missile programme is progressing faster than
expected, South Korea's defence minister said on Tuesday, after
the U.N. Security Council condemned the weekend launch of a new
long-range missile and demanded Pyongyang halt weapons tests.
    * Policy uncertainty in South Africa and low commodity
prices are hurting investment in the mining sector and will lead
to further job cuts, the chief executive of the world's biggest
platinum miner, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats)         , said
on Tuesday.             
    0900  Euro zone inflation final     Apr 

 (Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph
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