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PRECIOUS-Gold consolidates as pre-Jackson Hole jitters grip investors

* Gold set for third straight weekly rise

* Palladium up more than 6% for the week

* Silver set for best week since May

* SPDR Gold Trust holdings at lowest since April 2020 (Updates prices)

Aug 27 (Reuters) - Gold prices firmed on Friday, benefiting in part from market uncertainty about direction on stimulus tapering from the U.S. Federal Reserve chief and concerns over rising COVID-19 cases.

Spot gold was up 0.1% at $1,794.00 per ounce by 1128 GMT and is up about 1% for the week so far.

U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,795.50.

“There’s so much hype around Powell’s Jackson Hole appearance that it’s driving a lot of caution in the markets and this is slightly favouring havens,” OANDA analyst Craig Erlam said.

“Recent price action in gold has looked quite bullish as the odds of a September taper have dropped. Barring a surprise taper warning from Powell, or even the hint of one, gold could remain well supported and challenge $1,833 highs.”

Markets will be glued to Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s remarks at the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, symposium at 1400 GMT for hints about when the Fed will begin tapering its asset purchasing programme.

On Thursday, Fed’s hawkish policymakers urged the Fed to begin paring bond purchases they feel have become ineffective.

However, a surge in COVID-19 Delta variant cases has re-ignited concerns over a global economic slowdown, which could influence the tapering strategy.

“In our opinion, anyone hoping that he (Powell) will give an indication of when the Fed might begin its so-called tapering will be disappointed,” Commerzbank analysts said in a note.

“Gold may well find it hard to rise in any significant and lasting fashion, especially given that it has already been lacking the support of ETF investors for weeks now.”

Holdings of the SPDR Gold Trust exchange-traded fund (ETF) were near their lowest since April last year.

Silver rose 0.2% to $23.58 per ounce, headed for its biggest weekly gain since May.

Platinum gained 0.8% to $986.76, while palladium climbed 1.1% to $2,415.65 en route to its best week performance since June, up more than 6%. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Jason Neely)

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