May 3, 2019 / 4:01 AM / 20 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold holds near 4-month low as Fed stance hoists dollar

* Gold about 1.2 pct down so far this week

* SPDR Gold holdings fall to lowest in nearly 7 months

* U.S. Treasury yields at a one-week high

* Platinum touches one-month trough (Updates prices)

By Arijit Bose

May 3 (Reuters) - Gold prices on Friday hovered near the four-month low hit in the previous session, after the U.S. Federal Reserve dampened expectations of a rate cut in the near term, boosting the dollar and setting the bullion on course for a weekly drop.

A stronger dollar makes gold costlier for holders of other currencies.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,270.46 per ounce, as of 0746 GMT. In the previous session, the metal dropped to $1,265.85, its lowest since end-December.

The bullion has shed about 1.2 percent so far this week.

U.S. gold futures eased 0.1 percent to $1,271.20 an ounce.

On Wednesday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said inflation risks flagged during the release of the U.S. GDP data were only based on transitory factors, and that there was no obligation to readjust interest rates any time soon.

“An unwinding of excessively bullish positioning for a dovish Fed has put a hammer on gold,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst with OANDA.

The Fed decision lifted U.S. Treasury yields to a one-week high, while the dollar looked set to end the week on a firmer note as markets scaled back bets on a U.S. rate cut.

The greenback has edged higher since Powell played down the recent slowing in inflation and saw no reason to cut interest rates.

“The dollar will continue to strengthen and (10-year) treasury yields are still going to hover around higher levels. We haven’t seen anything from U.S. data that suggests a slowdown there, so gold is going to be under pressure in the near term,” Halley added.

However, while major hubs - China and Japan remain shut for holidays, Asian shares at large were subdued, restraining a further downward slide for the gold market, analysts said.

“From a technical point of view, there is a first support level (for gold) at $1,266, while the previous support levels of $1,280 and 1,288 now represent a resistance area for prices,” ActiveTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa said in a note from Thursday.

Reflecting investor sentiment in gold, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.16 percent to 745.52 tonnes on Thursday, its lowest since Oct. 12.

The market eyes the U.S. non-farm payrolls data to gauge the country’s economic performance. Analysts widely expect that U.S. employers maintained a strong hiring pace in April.

Silver was unchanged at $14.63 per ounce, holding close to a more than four-month low of $14.52 touched in the previous session.

Platinum rose 0.7 percent to $854.12 an ounce, having touched a one-month trough of $839 earlier in the session, while palladium edged up 0.1 percent to $1,356 an ounce. (Reporting by Arijit Bose in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips & Uttaresh.V)

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