Gold tops $1,900/oz for first time since June as Ukraine tensions grow

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  • Ukraine, Russia-backed rebels trade accusations
  • Platinum hits three-month peak
  • Palladium at two-week high

Feb 17 (Reuters) - Gold prices on Thursday rose above $1,900 for the first time since June as investors flocked to the safety of bullion after U.S. President Joe Biden said there was every indication Russia was planning to invade Ukraine.

Spot gold jumped 1.7% to $1,899.84 per ounce by 02:22 p.m. ET (1922 GMT), after hitting its highest since June 11 at $1,900.99 earlier.

U.S. gold futures settled 1.6% higher at $1,902.

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U.S. stocks slumped more than 1% as Ukraine tensions heightened. Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces traded accusations on Thursday that each had fired across the ceasefire line in eastern Ukraine. read more

"When times really get uncertain and anxiety is running high, gold is still the safe-haven asset to go to," said Jim Wyckoff, senior analyst at Kitco Metals.

Meanwhile, Russia expelled deputy U.S. ambassador Bartle Gorman, warning of a U.S. response amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. read more

"Not only do the events on the Ukrainian border have investors seeking out safe-havens, but it (gold) also offers inflation protection at a time of surging prices and the prospect of higher oil and gas prices, if Russia does invade," Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note.

Minutes of the latest policy meeting on Wednesday showed while policymakers agreed that it would "soon be appropriate" to raise the Fed's benchmark overnight interest rate from its near-zero level, they would re-asses the rate hike timeline at each meeting.

"The latest FOMC minutes did not offer fresh hawkish clues," Exinity analyst Han Tan said.

Auto-catalyst metal palladium jumped 3.4% to $2,358.19, after hitting a two-week high earlier in the session.

Russia is one of the world's largest palladium-producing countries and a conflict with Ukraine could lead to supply disruptions, analysts said.

Silver gained 1.4% to $23.87 and platinum climbed 2.3% to $1,085.83, after hitting a three-month high earlier.

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Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Shinjini Ganguli

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