PRECIOUS-Gold firms near 7-week high on weaker dollar, lower yields

    April 19 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose on Monday, hovering
near a seven-week peak hit in the previous session, as a softer
dollar and a retreat in U.S. Treasury yields lifted demand for
the safe-haven metal.
    * Spot gold        was up 0.3% at $1,781.75 per ounce by
0056 GMT, after hitting its highest since Feb.25 at $1,783.55 on
     * U.S. gold futures        edged 0.2% higher to $1,783 per
    * The dollar index        was languishing near a one-month
low against its rivals, making gold less expensive for other
currency holders.       
    * Benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yields edged lower towards
multi-weeks low touched last week. Low bond returns reduce the
opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.      
    * Asian shares hovered near 1-1/2-week highs on Monday
helped by expectations that monetary policy will remain
accommodative the world over.            
    * SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.3% to 1,019.66
tonnes on Friday from 1,022.86 tonnes on Thursday.          
    * On the physical side, elevated domestic prices and renewed
coronavirus restrictions due to a surge in infections dulled
physical gold purchases in India, while China stepped up bullion
imports as demand gradually rebooted.          
    * China has given commercial banks permission to import
large amounts of gold into the country, five sources familiar
with the matter said.             
    * Hedge funds and money managers cut their bullish positions
in COMEX gold and raised them in silver contracts in the week to
April 13, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)
said on Friday.        
    * Silver        rose 0.4% to $26.06 per ounce. Palladium
       eased 0.5% to $2,763.22. Platinum        gained 0.5% to

 (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; editing by