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PRECIOUS-Gold jumps 1.5% on inflation concerns, softer dollar

    * Silver hits near three-week high
    * Dollar drops to more than one-month low
    * Markets await Powell testimony to Congress 

 (Updates prices, adds market details)
    By Brijesh Patel
    Feb 22 (Reuters) - Gold rose more than 1.5% to a near
one-week high on Monday, as expectations for rising inflation
triggered equity valuation concerns and drove investors toward
the safe-haven metal, while a weaker U.S. dollar lent further
support.
    Spot gold        was up 1.5% at $1,808.16 an ounce by 1:46
p.m. EST (1846 GMT), after hitting its highest level since Feb.
16 in the session.
    U.S. gold futures        settled up 1.7% at $1,808.40.
    "We are seeing investment flows into gold as market
participants grow more anxious about rising real rates that can
impact equity valuations," said TD Securities commodity
strategist Daniel Ghali, pointing to rising Treasury yields.
    U.S. benchmark 10-year treasury yields hit a near one-year
high, increasing the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding
bullion.      
    However, rising real yields and inflation concerns made
equity valuations look more stretched in comparison and prompted
investors toward safe-haven assets like gold, which is widely
viewed as a hedge against inflation.            
    "The dollar at the moment is low and that is supporting.
Also, the real reason for the gold prices to increase in the
longer term is the chances of inflation picking up," Commerzbank
analyst Eugen Weinberg said.
    The dollar index        fell 0.4% to a more than one-month
low, making gold less expensive for holders of other currencies.
      
    A $1.9 trillion U.S. stimulus package is widely expected to
pass by the end of the week, raising hopes of a speedy economic
recovery but at the cost of rising inflation.
    Investors are also eyeing the testimony of U.S. Federal
Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on the Semiannual Monetary Report
to Congress on Tuesday.                          
    The Fed and other leading central banks have pinned their
hopes on ultra-low interest rates to get the economy out of the
economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Elsewhere, silver        rose 3% to $28.02 an ounce, its
highest level since Feb.2. Platinum        edged 0.1% higher to
$1,274.80.
    Palladium        gained 0.4% to $2,388.70, after reaching a
more than one-month high of $2,431.50.

 (Reporting by Brijesh Patel and Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru
Editing by Richard Chang and Matthew Lewis)
  
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