August 7, 2014 / 4:35 PM / 3 years ago

PRECIOUS-Gold turns higher on technical buying as tensions rise

* Obama considering Iraq air strike report helps

* Breaks above 50, 100-day moving averages, holds 200 DMA

* SPDR Gold Trust holdings fall

* Coming up: US wholesale inventory data Friday (Adds market details, updates prices)

By Frank Tang and Jan Harvey

NEW YORK/LONDON, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose on Thursday as safe-haven buying amid rising tensions in Iraq and Ukraine extended the previous session’s rally, and analysts said the metal could gain further after having breached key technical resistance.

Bullion climbed after the New York Times reported that U.S. President Barack Obama was considering air strikes and emergency relief airdrops to help 40,000 religious minorities in Iraq, who are trapped on a mountaintop after threats by Islamic militants. A White House spokesman later would not say if air strikes were being considered.

Analysts said technical buying could further lift gold after worries about a possible escalation of the military conflict in Ukraine sent bullion prices above key resistance, including the 50-day and 100-day moving averages on Wednesday.

“That gold prices had managed to hold at the 200-day moving average, despite a couple of attempts to break the downside, could well have lured short-term players back in,” said Edel Tully, precious metals strategist at UBS.

Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,310.74 an ounce by 2:05 p.m. EDT (1805 GMT).

On Wednesday, gold jumped about 1.5 percent for its biggest one-day gain in more than a month, triggered by worries about an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and by a weak undertone in global equities.

U.S. COMEX gold futures for December delivery settled up $4.30 an ounce at $1,312.50, while trading volume was about 25 percent below its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.

Bullion initially fell as U.S. equities rose after data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week. The S&P 500 equities index, however, later erased gains to trade lower.

Gold investors took heart after the European Central Bank said it held borrowing rates at record low levels as the Ukraine crisis has heightened risks to the euro zone’s weak and uneven economic recovery.

Despite Wednesday’s price gains, holdings in the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, fell 2.4 tonnes to 797.65 tonnes on Wednesday.

Among other precious metals, silver was down 0.4 percent at $19.92 an ounce. Platinum rose 1.4 percent to $1,473.70 an ounce, while palladium was up 0.6 percent at $852.47 an ounce. 2:05 PM EDT LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT

SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold DEC 1312.50 4.30 0.3 1303.00 1315.50 107,073 US Silver SEP 19.990 -0.034 -0.2 19.880 20.130 38,324 US Plat OCT 1481.50 16.30 1.1 1464.50 1483.00 9,684 US Pall SEP 856.05 7.15 0.8 847.00 860.80 6,455 Gold 1310.74 4.75 0.4 1302.40 1313.30 Silver 19.920 -0.090 -0.4 19.910 20.110 Platinum 1473.70 19.70 1.4 1463.70 1477.50 Palladium 852.47 5.17 0.6 848.00 858.15 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY

CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 120,856 165,762 157,651 14.83 0.16 US Silver 49,618 43,794 57,595 18.64 0.29 US Platinum 9,791 8,700 12,443 14.52 1.73 US Palladium 7,578 4,659 5,574 19.35 0.54 (Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; editing by David Evans, Meredith Mazzilli and Tom Brown)

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