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Gold muted as equities soar on ebbing trade worries

(Reuters) - Gold clung to a narrow $5 range on Friday as investors remained on the sidelines ahead of the holiday season and as equities markets hit record highs on easing U.S.-China trade worries.

FILE PHOTO: A one kilo gold bar is displayed in a shop in Dubai's gold souk, April 11, 2006. REUTERS/Tamara Abdul Hadi

Spot gold was unchanged at $1,478.90 per ounce as of 11:06 a.m. ET(1605 GMT), but extended gains for a second straight week. U.S. gold futures eased 0.1% to $1,482.60 per ounce.

“There are concerns that the stocks are so hot right now. And there are investors who are buying gold as a backstop if that thing is to turn,” said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

World stock markets touched record highs on Friday while the U.S. dollar was set for its best week in six against a basket of currencies .DXY.

Gains in bullion were limited after data showed U.S. economic growth edged up in the third quarter amid signs the economy more or less maintained the moderate pace of expansion as the year ended.

“The dollar is strong because the U.S. is seen as being strong right now. The U.S. GDP data came out a good number, which shows the U.S. humming along,” Haberkorn added.

Recent positive economic data and optimism around the U.S.-China trade war has fueled expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve is unlikely to cut interest rates again in the near future.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the United States and China would sign their so-called Phase 1 trade pact in early January.

Safe-haven gold has so far gained more than 15% in the year on global recessionary fears, owing to the 17-month trade war between the two largest economies. The likelihood that negotiations are proceeding smoothly has drawn some attention away from gold.

“Traders and investors are turning their attention to the upcoming holidays, including squaring their books, so trading interest and volumes are likely to wane the next couple weeks,” Kitco Metals senior analyst Jim Wyckoff said in a note.

Amongst other precious metals, palladium shed 2.7% to $1,884.30 an ounce, on track for its first weekly decline in five.

After notching an all-time high of $1,998.43 on Tuesday, the metal has receded by almost $116 to dip 2.6% in the week.

Platinum eased 1.5% to $919.77, while silver rose 1% to $17.22 an ounce. Silver extended gains into a second week, up 1.6%.

Reporting by Karthika Suresh Namboothiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler