* Gold buoyed by hopes Fed will not raise rates soon
* Platinum, palladium up on South African supply worries
* SPDR ETF holdings fall to lowest since December 2008 (Adds comment, second byline, dateline, updates market activities)
By Frank Tang and Clara Denina
NEW YORK/LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) - Gold rose on follow-through buying on Thursday, a day after minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting suggested the central bank would not raise interest rates soon.
Platinum group metals (PGMs) also gained again on supply worries after the chief executive of a top South African platinum producer said the country’s crippling four-month miners strike could last much longer.
On Wednesday, the minutes of the Fed’s latest policy meeting showed the central bank began to lay groundwork for an eventual retreat from stimulus but no final decisions were taken.
“Gold’s up from the back of the Fed news yesterday. Realistically, it doesn’t look like the Fed will raises interest rate any time soon,” said Thomas Capalbo, precious metals trader at brokerage Newedge.
Capalbo also cited news that India’s central bank started to ease gold import rules.
Spot gold rose 0.2 percent to $1,294.44 an ounce by 3:00 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT), after closing between $1,291 and $1,296 for the past five sessions.
U.S. COMEX gold futures settled up $6.90 at $1,295 an ounce, with trading volume in line with its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
Gold pared back from its early gain at above $1,300 an ounce, however, after mixed U.S. economic indicators.
Holdings of the SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 3.3 tonnes to 776.89 tonnes on Wednesday, the lowest since December 2008. The outflow was the biggest since April 30.
The fund is considered a good measure of investor sentiment and can influence prices due to the size of its holdings.
Platinum rose to its highest since September at $1,493.90 an ounce after the CEO of Impala Platinum said a four-month mining strike in South Africa threatened to drag on much longer.
The National Union of Mineworkers said South Africa’s labor movement will be the ultimate loser from a rival union’s 17-week platinum strike, which could lead to layoffs and new restrictive government rules.
Spot platinum was last 1.4 percent higher at $1,485.50 an ounce, while palladium gained 0.9 percent to $833.25, extending its rise to a fifth consecutive day. 3:00 PM EDT LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT
SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold JUN 1295.00 6.90 0.5 1290.10 1304.10 120,592 US Silver MAY 19.490 0.183 0.9 19.550 19.745 15 US Plat JUL 1493.10 18.20 1.2 1472.50 1497.80 12,082 US Pall JUN 836.45 6.00 0.7 827.30 839.55 8,923 Gold 1294.44 3.04 0.2 1290.50 1303.50 Silver 19.460 0.080 0.4 19.380 19.800 Platinum 1485.50 20.50 1.4 1474.40 1493.90 Palladium 833.25 7.35 0.9 829.00 837.40 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY
CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 144,393 145,447 179,491 14.03 -0.47 US Silver 50,333 54,169 55,093 20.95 0.28 US Platinum 12,303 9,633 12,534 17.84 0.34 US Palladium 15,110 6,036 5,872 22.97 -0.77 (Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by Jane Baird, Dale Hudson and Tom Brown)