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PRECIOUS-Palladium extends record run, gold dips on strong U.S. data

    * Platinum en route to best week in six
    * U.S. new home sales jump, factory activity accelerates

 (Adds comment, updates prices)
    By Arpan Varghese
    April 23 (Reuters) - Palladium extended its blistering rally
to an all-time high within striking distance of $3,000 on Friday
on supply concerns and bets for improving demand, while gold
pulled back on strong U.S. economic data. 
    Palladium        hit a record high of $2,925.14 per ounce
and was poised for a second straight weekly gain. It was up 
0.4% to $2,849.18 per ounce by 1:58 p.m. EDT (1758 GMT).    
    Many analysts expect a further run towards $3,000 as
automakers ramp up purchases of the metal, worsening a supply
shortage.             
    "We're expected to outstrip supply for multiple years out,"
said Phillip Streible, chief market strategist at Blue Line
Futures in Chicago.
    Both palladium and platinum are used as emissions reducing
catalysts in automobiles but palladium is used more in gasoline
engines.
    Platinum        climbed 2% to $1,226.93 per ounce and was
headed for its best week in six. 
    Spot gold       , meanwhile, fell 0.4% to $1,777.24 per
ounce, giving up initial gains that were driven by a weaker
dollar and subdued U.S. yields. 
    U.S. gold futures        settled 0.2% lower at $1,777.8 per
ounce.
    Data showed U.S. factory activity powered ahead in early
April, giving a lift to Wall Street, while a rebound in new home
sales exceeded expectations in March.                  
    Although prices were lower on Friday, underlying factors
such as safe-haven inflows due to the pandemic, the likelihood
of rising inflation, lower interest rates for longer and
supportive technicals make the case for holding gold, said
Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors.
    Silver        fell 0.6% to $26.02 per ounce.             

 (Reporting by Arpan Varghese and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru;
Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
  
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