August 31, 2018 / 3:53 AM / 20 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold rises, but set for longest monthly losing streak in 5-1/2 years

* Spot gold on track for fifth straight monthly loss

* Palladium hovers near 10-week high hit on Thursday

* ETF selling continues, SPDR Gold holdings fell 0.3 on Thursday

* Spot gold may drop to $1,185/oz - technicals (Recasts, adds comment)

By Sethuraman N R

BENGALURU, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Gold rose on Friday as investors hedged against risks stemming from the ongoing trade dispute, with $1,200 acting as a strong support, but the bullion was headed for its longest monthly losing streak since 2013.

Spot gold was up 0.6 percent at $1,207.06 an ounce at 0706 GMT, after touching a near one-week low of $1,195.95 on Thursday. Prices are down 1.3 percent so far this month, on track for a fifth straight monthly decline.

U.S. gold futures were up 0.7 percent at $1,212.80 an ounce.

“We have got a lot of risks over the weekend and pretty good support at $1,200 and just below. We could have a double whammy with NAFTA deal not going through and Trump blowing heavy on China Tariff’s next week,” said Stephen Innes, Asia-Pacific trading head at OANDA.

“Looks like the hedgers finally woke up, seeing the strong support and put some insurance over the weekend to protect themselves just in case of an equity market meltdown.”

Negotiators from Canada and the United States made a late-night push for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), without a deal.

Investors also braced for the next round of the U.S.-China trade conflict.

However, gold prices have declined about 7.7 percent so far this year amid rising U.S. interest rates, international trade disputes and the Turkish currency crisis, with investors preferring the dollar as a safe-haven.

The dollar index on Friday edged 0.1 percent lower to 94.669 against a basket of six major currencies.

The greenback’s weakness against the yuan on Friday also made bullion cheap for buyers in the world’s biggest consumer of the metal, China, traders said.

Meanwhile, investors continued their liquidation of exchange traded funds, even after gold prices recovered from a 1-1/2-year low of $1,159.96 touched earlier this month.

Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, have seen continuous outflows since July 23 and are down over 9 percent so far this year.

“The ongoing outflows from ETFs, record high speculative shorts and upbeat U.S. economic data are still the major headwinds for gold and signify the recovery might be short- lived,” said Religare Securities analyst Sugandha Sachdeva.

Spot gold may drop to $1,185 per ounce as it has broken a support at $1,200, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Spot silver was up 0.6 percent at $14.61 an ounce.

Palladium was up 1.4 percent at $978.62 an ounce, after touching a 10-week high at $983.75. Platinum rose 0.6 percent to $793.70 an ounce.

Palladium’s premium over platinum hit about $185 per ounce on Thursday, the highest since March 2001. (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph Radford and Vyas Mohan)

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