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Gold falls to one-month low as Fed comments lift dollar

FOR RP - Gold Bullion from the American Precious Metals Exchange (APMEX) is seen in New York, September 15, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Segar
FOR RP - Gold Bullion from the American Precious Metals Exchange (APMEX) is seen in New York, September 15, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Segar

By Jan Harvey

LONDON (Reuters) - Gold fell for a seventh straight session on Friday, its longest losing streak in four years, as speculation that the Federal Reserve may soon rein in monetary easing lifted the dollar.

Dollar strength stunted a brief rally in gold prices late on Thursday after a batch of soft U.S. data, putting the metal on track to fall 5 percent this week, the most in four weeks.

Spot gold hit a four-month low at $1,367.76 and was down 0.7 percent at $1,376.00 an ounce at 9.44 a.m. ET. U.S. gold futures for June delivery were down $13.60 an ounce at $1,373.30.

The dollar rose, hitting a near three-year high against a currency basket, helped by comments from San Francisco Fed chief John Williams on Thursday the bank could begin easing up on stimulus this summer.

"If we look at the dollar index from May 8, it has jumped by 3 percent, which goes hand in hand with news about QE and the economic situation in the United States," Natixis analyst Bernard Dahdah said.

"We are in a situation where (gold) is driven by investor sentiment in the United States," he added. "They are maybe liquidating their gold holdings in ETPs because they want to put their money in equities."

Exchange-traded products -- investment vehicles that give investors exposure to the gold price through issuing securities backed by physical metal -- have seen huge outflows this year.

The largest, New York's SPDR Gold Trust, reported an outflow of another 5.7 metric tons on Thursday, bringing the drop in its holdings this week to more than 10 metric tons.

"In the main, the current price weakness is to be attributed to strength in the dollar and massive selling in exchange-traded funds," Sharps Pixley Chief Executive Ross Norman said.

Physical demand for the metal, which spiked after prices posted their biggest two-day drop in 30 years in April, showed signs of softening.

Buying in India, the main consumer of the precious metal, had fallen significantly from Monday, which saw the celebration of Akshaya Tritiya, one gold trader in Singapore said.

PALLADIUM SHINES

Platinum group metals were the best performers this week, with palladium up 5 percent as refiners, recyclers, consumers and traders attended Platinum Week in London.

"The outperformance of PGMs, and particularly palladium, is consistent with overall positive views expressed by majority of industry participants with whom we've spoken," UBS said in a note. "Preference for palladium is more evident than ever."

Spot platinum was down 1.1 percent at $1,462.99 an ounce, while spot palladium was up 0.2 percent at $735.97 an ounce.

Platinum has benefited from concerns over industrial unrest in major producer South Africa. Miners at South Africa's Anglo American Platinum reported for work on Friday, a company spokeswoman said, despite earlier calls for a strike by some union leaders.

Platinum extended its premium over gold to a 2-1/2 year high at nearly $100 an ounce, having maintained a historically unusual discount to gold for much of the previous two years.

Silver tracked gold lower, falling 5.1 percent on the week to $22.56 an ounce. It was down 0.5 percent on the day.

(Reporting by Jan Harvey; Editing by Alison Birrane)

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