* U.S. consumer prices post first drop in 9 months
* Gold up about 0.3 percent so far this week
* Palladium set for third straight weekly gain
By Swati Verma
BENGALURU, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Gold edged higher on Friday and was on track for its fourth successive weekly gain, as U.S. stocks slipped and expectations rose that the U.S. Federal Reserve might halt its monetary policy tightening cycle.
Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,288.47 an ounce by 1:52 p.m. EST (1852 GMT). U.S. gold futures settled 0.2 percent higher at $1,289.5.
“With equities down slightly heading into the weekend, there is some flight to safety in gold,” said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.
An index of world stock markets eased on Friday after a five-day winning streak.
“The equities are looking a little heavy up at these levels and yesterday’s speech by Fed Chairman Powell felt like Fed might adopt a dovish stance on rates moving forward, which is lending a lot of support to gold,” Haberkorn added.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said on Thursday the U.S. central bank could be patient on rate policy.
Data on Friday showed U.S. consumer prices fell for the first time in nine months in December, which likely supports recent remarks by several policymakers, including Powell, for caution about raising interest rates this year.
Gold tends to gain on expectations of lower interest rates, as they reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.
“Recent inflation data from around the globe points to a tamer outlook on rising prices in the coming months,” Jim Wyckoff, senior analyst at Kitco Metals, wrote in a note.
“That should allow world central banks to be less hawkish on their monetary policies, which would be a bullish element for the precious metals markets.”
Gold is up about 0.3 percent for the week, mainly supported by a weaker dollar, which slipped to about three-month lows on Thursday against the backdrop of dovish views from the Fed and a de-escalation in the U.S.-China trade dispute.
U.S. officials expect China’s top trade negotiator to visit Washington this month after this week’s talks with mid-level officials in Beijing.
“The $1,300 resistance level for gold is looking very vulnerable. Risk aversion has been supportive, but as we’re seeing now, its primary driver is the dollar,” said OANDA senior market analyst Craig Erlam.
Among other precious metals, palladium was down 0.2 percent at $1,319.50 an ounce, and was up about 1.4 percent for the week.
Platinum slipped 0.7 percent to $814.10 and ounce and was down over 1 percent for the week.
Silver gained 0.3 percent to $15.61 an ounce. But it was on track to record a weekly decline after rising for three weeks. (Reporting by Swati Verma and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru Editing by Susan Thomas)