March 4, 2019 / 11:07 AM / in 20 days

PRECIOUS-Gold slips to 5-week low as trade deal hopes boost risk sentiment

(updates prices)

* SPDR Gold holdings see worst one-day fall since Dec. 2016

* Gold may break support at $1,289/oz- analyst

* Silver touches lowest point since Dec. 27

* Platinum hits lowest since Feb. 22

By Arijit Bose

March 4 (Reuters) - Gold fell to the lowest in more than five weeks on Monday as the dollar held firm and investors opted for riskier assets on hopes of a thaw in a trade dispute between the United States and China.

Spot gold slid 0.6 percent to $1,285.74 per ounce as of 1250 GMT, having earlier touched $1,284.50, its lowest since Jan. 25.

U.S. gold futures were down almost 1 percent at $1,286.70 an ounce.

Gold tumbled 2.6 percent last week, its biggest weekly fall in over 1-1/2 years.

“Increasing risk appetite is clearly a little negative for gold,” Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke said.

“We saw quite a bit of selling on Friday as the dollar strengthened and that’s continuing today, putting some pressure on gold. The break below $1,300 (on Friday) also triggered some more selling from technical traders.”

Global markets rose on expectations that the two largest economies in the world might stave off a drawn-out trade war.

A source briefed on negotiations said the two countries were likely to reach a deal, rolling back U.S. tariffs on at least $200 million worth Chinese goods.

“Equities had their best start into the year since 1991, sentiment is positive again and against that backdrop, it is not surprising that we’ve seen some selling out of gold-backed products,” Menke said.

Also, the dollar consolidated gains after posting its biggest monthly rise in four months, reducing appeal for gold among holders of other currencies.

Indicative of sentiment, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest, gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 1.50 percent on Friday, their biggest one-day percentage fall since December 2016.

SPDR holdings are now down over 1.5 percent this year.

Gold could “lose further ground” if data at the end of the week points to an improvement in the U.S. labour market, analysts at Commerzbank said in a note.

The metal may break a support at $1,289 per ounce and fall towards the next support at $1,271, according to Reuters analyst Wang Tao.

Among other precious metals, palladium fell 0.4 percent to $1,539.65 per ounce.

However, the threat of a possible strike in South Africa, a major producer of the autocatalyst metal, is keeping the prices high, analysts said.

“Palladium supply and demand (are) inelastic until catalyst producers start substitute” a BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report stated, adding that the metal would still be in preference for at least another year.

Platinum was down 2.3 percent at $836.85 an ounce, having earlier touched $832.50, its lowest since Feb. 22.

Spot silver shed 0.6 percent to $15.12, having hit a trough since Dec. 27 last year at $15.08 earlier. (Reporting by Arijit Bose in Bengaluru Editing by Mark Heinrich and Louise Heavens)

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