* U.S. weekly jobless claims rise less than expected * Gold falls below $1,700/oz for first time since June 9, 2020 (New throughout, adds comments, updates prices) By Eileen Soreng March 4 (Reuters) - Gold slumped to a near nine-month low on Thursday pressured by gains in the dollar and U.S. Treasury yields after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signalled no immediate move to address the surge in bond yields. Spot gold fell 0.9% to $1,695.26 per ounce by 2:33 p.m. EST (1933 GMT), falling below the $1,700 level for the first time since June 2020. U.S. gold futures settled down 0.9% at $1,700.7. "Gold prices have once again come under pressure as real yields have spiked following the market's disappointment over Fed Chair Powell's comments," said Standard Chartered analyst Suki Cooper. "Prices have dipped below $1,700/oz and are testing the next support level at $1,689/oz although gold is technically oversold." The recent rise in U.S. yields have eroded gold's appeal as an inflation hedge by increasing the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion. Meanwhile, the dollar hit a peak since December 2020. Gold is likely to go lower from here, said Phillip Streible, chief market strategist at Blue Line Futures in Chicago. "The ETF liquidation is still very strong too. You have too many people that bought it at these higher levels... They are eventually going to throw the towel in on it," Streible added. Holdings of the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust , fell to their lowest since May 2020 on Wednesday. The U.S. Senate is expected to begin debating President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Thursday after agreeing to phase out payments to higher-income Americans. Meanwhile, data showed the number of Americans filing for jobless benefits rose last week. Silver fell 3.2% to $25.24 per ounce, while palladium eased 0.3% to $2,346.19. Platinum dropped 3.7% to $1,123.49. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)
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