* G7 works to tighten sanction squeeze on Moscow * News of ban will be quickly digested - analyst (Updates prices) By Bharat Gautam June 27 (Reuters) - Gold prices strengthened on Monday, as news of some Western nations planning to officially ban imports of the metal from Russia for its invasion of Ukraine sparked interest in bullion. Spot gold rose 0.8% to $1,839.79 per ounce by 0721 GMT. U.S. gold futures were up 0.6% at $1,840.50. "The G7 import ban on Russian gold seems to be providing some short-term support in early Asia (trading)," OANDA senior analyst Jeffrey Halley said. "However, it is mostly a rubber stamp exercise in reality for the grouping, and I do not expect this to mark a structural change in the supply/demand outlook that will underpin prices." Four of the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations moved to ban imports of Russian gold on Sunday to tighten the sanction squeeze on Moscow and cut off its means of financing the invasion of Ukraine. "The headline will be quickly digested, and the market should go back to its tug of war between higher front-end rates, negative for gold, and recession odds meaning sooner rate cuts, positive for gold," said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management. A pair of U.S. central bankers said on Friday they supported further sharp rate hikes to stem rapid price rises, even as investors cheered economic data showing inflation expectations to be less worrisome than initially feared. Gold is seen as a hedge against inflation, but higher interest rates raise the opportunity cost of holding bullion, which yields no interest. "Overall, gold remains mired in the middle of the $1,780-$1,880 range that's been in place since early May, and we will need a large directional move by the U.S. dollar to change that dynamic," Halley said. Spot silver rose 1.7% to $21.46 per ounce, platinum gained 0.5% to $912.12, and palladium climbed 2.9% to $1,930.58. (Reporting by Bharat Govind Gautam in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Subhranshu Sahu)
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