PRECIOUS-Gold buckles under higher yields, inflation unease limits losses

(Adds comments, updates prices)

* UBS sees gold prices at $1,700/oz at end-March 2022

* 10-year Treasury yields hit five-month high

* Gold trapped between $1,750 and $1,800 - analyst

Oct 21 (Reuters) - Gold prices dipped slightly on Thursday on elevated U.S. Treasury yields, but there was some support from concerns over persistently higher inflation.

Spot gold fell 0.2% to $1,777.70 per ounce by 1202 GMT, largely trading in a narrow range. U.S. gold futures fell 0.3% to $1,780.40.

“Rising yields have been obviously negative for gold, and yet at the same time you have inflationary pressures rising with crude oil (prices) surging, which in turn have raised demand for gold,” said Fawad Razaqzada, analyst with ThinkMarkets.

Gold remained trapped between $1,800 resistance and support around $1,750 due to the conflicting factors, he added.

U.S. benchmark 10-year yields hit their highest in five months.

While gold is often considered an inflation hedge, reduced stimulus and interest rate hikes push government bond yields up, raising the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

Two U.S. Federal Reserve officials said on Wednesday that while the central bank should begin winding down its stimulus measures, it was too soon for interest rate hikes.

UBS analysts said in a note that rising inflation expectations and softening growth expectations could support gold prices in the next month or two, though it is not indicative of a “regime change” towards stagflation.

The bank forecasts gold prices at $1,700/oz at end-March 2022 and $1,600/oz by end-December 2022.

Capping gold’s decline, the dollar index was flat, having hit a three-week trough earlier in the session.

“The near-term trend is still very much against the dollar which is supportive for gold prices. A move below 93-93.50 support in the dollar index should force gold above $1,800,” OANDA analyst Craig Erlam said.

Spot silver fell 0.9% to $24.06 per ounce. Platinum dropped 1.5% to $1,035.04 and palladium slipped 2.2% to $2,027.00. (Reporting by Eileen Soreng and Bharat Govind Gautam Editing by Mark Potter and Nick Macfie)