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PRECIOUS-Gold firms near 1-month peak as dollar, U.S. yields retreat

    * U.S. weekly jobless claims unexpectedly rise
    * Silver hits highest since March 23 at $25.60/oz
    * Dollar hits two-week trough

 (Updates prices)
    By Sumita Layek
    April 8 (Reuters) - Gold prices climbed to their highest
level in more than a month on Thursday as the dollar and U.S.
yields dropped and the Federal Reserve's reiteration of its
dovish policy stance also lifted bullion's appeal.
    Spot gold        rose 1.11% to $1,756.56 per ounce by 1:43
p.m. EDT (1743 GMT), having earlier hit its highest since March
1 at $1,758.45. U.S. gold futures        settled up about 1% at
$1,758.2.
    "The dollar and U.S. yields are coming off and that's the
key catalyst right now... a pretty unimpressive jobs number is
also helping push gold higher," said Bob Haberkorn, senior
market strategist, RJO Futures.
    "And the fact that we're above $1,750, which is a key
technical level, shows that gold has some legs to continue
higher."
    The dollar        slipped to a more than two-week low, while
benchmark Treasury yields eased, making gold more appealing
compared to alternative investments like bonds.
    New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose
last week, data showed.            
    This further highlighted the Fed's commitment of supporting
the economy until its recovery is more secure, minutes of the
central bank's latest policy meeting showed on Wednesday.
            
    "Gold has been somewhat weak because people have been very
optimistic about the economic recovery and the vaccinations
resolving the pandemic and the Fed sort of reinforced the view
that the pandemic is not over," said Jeffrey Christian, managing
partner of CPM Group.
    "There is a real race between the variants and the
vaccinations, and right now the variants seem to have the upper
hand on a global basis."
    Market participants now await Fed Chair Jerome Powell's
speech at a virtual International Monetary Fund conference later
on Thursday.
    Silver        gained 1.4% to $25.47 per ounce, having hit a
more than two-week peak of $25.60. Palladium        added 0.3%
to $2,630.19 per ounce, while platinum        rose 0.4% to
$1,229.99.

 (Reporting by Sumita Layek and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru;
Editing by Susan Fenton, Kirsten Donovan)
  
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