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Weaker dollar pushes gold higher for fourth day

LONDON (Reuters) - Gold prices rose for a fourth day on Wednesday as U.S. data showing solid home sales but a fall in mortgage applications pushed the dollar to a two-week low.

Gains were limited by a rise in U.S. bond yields to nine-month highs after the Senate passed the country’s biggest tax reforms in 30 years.

A weaker dollar makes gold cheaper for holders of other currencies, which can stimulate demand, but higher bond yields reduce the appeal of non-yielding bullion.

Spot gold was up 0.3 percent at $1,265.10 an ounce at 1548 GMT while U.S. gold futures were 0.3 percent higher at $1,268.40 an ounce.

Gold has risen by around 2.5 percent from a five-month low of $1,235.92 on Dec. 12, helped by a weakening dollar.

But market players are wary of taking new positions before the holiday season and prices are on track to register their narrowest trading range in the last quarter of 2017 than any in a decade.

“Gold is coming up from a cyclical bottom. It’s going to get quieter due to the upcoming holiday long-weekends,” said Mun Chun Loh, director, Private Wealth at GoldSilver Central Pte Ltd in Singapore.

Holdings of the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, New York-based SPDR Gold Shares, fell 1 percent over Monday and Tuesday to the lowest level since early September.

But low prices have spurred demand for physical gold in China, with local premiums approaching $11, said MKS PAMP trader Sam Laughlin.

Goldman Sachs said in a note it expected gold prices to fall further and reach $1,200 an ounce by mid-2018.

“We see the decline in gold as evidence that “fear” effects, which had been keeping gold supported, have at least partially moderated as U.S. tax reform and the transition to a new Fed chair appear to be going smoothly,” it said.

On the technical side, resistance was at the 200-day moving average at $1,269.15 an ounce and momentum indicators suggested gold would continue to rise if it remained above a fibonacci level of $1,260.50, said analysts at ScotiaMocatta.

Amongst other precious metal prices, silver was up 0.4 percent at $16.18 an ounce.

Platinum was 0.3 percent higher at $916.45 an ounce and palladium gained 0.7 percent to $1,029.25.

Additional reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Elaine Hardcastle