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PRECIOUS – Gold rises as weak U.S. data dampens rate hike expectations.

Reuters  |  By Marcy Nicholson and Peter Hobson

NEW YORK/LONDON, May 15 Gold rose as U.S. political turmoil, a missile test by North Korea and a worldwide cyber attack fueled demand for safe-haven assets, while weaker than expected U.S. data pushed the dollar lower, making gold cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,230.15 an ounce by 2:11 p.m. EDT (1811 GMT), on rack for a third day of gains after hitting an eight-week low of $1,213.81 last week. U.S. gold futures settled up 0.2 percent at $1,230.

“Continued unpredictability of the Trump administration, North Korea flexing its  uscles again and weaker data coming from the U.S. has helped bring back some interest,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodities strategy at Saxo Bank.

Worse than expected U.S. data has reduced expectations of aggressive interest rate increases by the U.S. Federal Reserve this year, though traders still expect a rise in June.

Higher interest rates tend to boost the dollar and push bond yields up, putting pressure on gold prices by increasing the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

Gold prices pared gains as the U.S. dollar came off its lows and U.S. 10-year Treasury yields bounced up from a 1-1/2-week low.

“Unless there is more stronger data, more than two rate hikes are not very likely (this year),” said Argonaut Securities analyst Helen Lau.

Money managers’ net longs in COMEX gold fell to the lowest in six-weeks in the week ending May 9.

“The $34/oz decline in gold prices during the week ended 9 May was accompanied by the second-largest weekly decline in gross long positions,” said Standard Chartered in a note.

Gold demand, meanwhile, has strengthened in China and India, supporting prices.

In other precious metals, silver was up 1.1 percent at $16.63 an ounce, after money managers cut their net long stance in silver to the smallest since February 2016 from a
record high last month.

Platinum was up 1.1 percent at $927.48, as producers, fabricators and traders gathered for Platinum Week in London.

The metal used for jewelry and emission-controlling catalytic converters in diesel vehicles has gained more than 5 percent from a 4-1/2-month low of $889.10 on May 4.

The World Platinum Investment Council said on Monday that a market deficit would shrink this year as demand falls and low prices discourage investment, while  autocatalyst maker Johnson Matthey said that 2017 would bring the first surplus in six
years.

Palladium turned down 1.1 percent to $797.40 an ounce.

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