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PRECIOUS-Gold surges to near 14-month peak, set for fourth weekly gain


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* Gold up 0.4% so far this week

* Palladium on track for best week in nearly 9-months

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: http://tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Updates prices)

June 14 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose on Friday, movingcloser to their 14-month high hit last week, as trade andpolitical turmoil, along with U.S. interest rate cutexpectations propped up the precious metal.

Spot gold XAU= was up 0.3% at $1,345.28 per ounce, as of0504 GMT, after hitting a session high of $1,347.81, less than$1 away from its 14-month peak of $1,348.08 touched last week.

Bullion has risen 0.4% so far this week, keeping the yellowmetal on track for its fourth consecutive weekly gain.

U.S. gold futures GCv1 rose 0.4% to $1,348.60 an ounce.

"Concerns around Middle East and potential conflicts are oneof the factors. There is also investment drive here with bondsrenewing their rally, it appears growth concerns remain," saidMichael McCarthy, chief market strategist, CMC Markets.

"Growth concerns and interest rate expectations support goldmarket. In low growth, highly liquid environment, money has tofind a home, it appears a number of investors have concludedthat gold would one of those homes."

On Thursday, Washington blamed Iran for attacks on two oiltankers in the Gulf of Oman, where Norwegian-owned Front Altairor the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous experienced explosions,forcing crews to abandon ship and leave the vessels adrift inwaters. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N23K1S2

This coupled with an importunate Sino-U.S. trade conflictpushed investors to the edge, with more than 600 U.S. companiesurging President Donald Trump on Thursday to resolve thedispute, saying tariffs hurt American businesses and consumers. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N23K486

Impact of the long-drawn trade war was also evident on theU.S. labor market, which saw an unexpected rise in the number ofAmericans filing applications for unemployment over the lastweek. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N23J12M

Another data showed U.S. import prices fell by the most infive months in May in the latest indication of muted inflationpressures.

This further fuelled expectations of rate cut by U.S.Federal Reserve, pulling short-dated U.S. Treasury yields loweron Thursday, and steepening the yield curve ahead of Friday'sretail sales data and the central bank's meeting next week. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N23K14E

"Gold traded higher as its appeal as an alternativeinvestment in times of uncertainty. The yellow metal has risenas the probabilities of a summer interest rate cut by the Fedhave increased," Alfonso Esparza, a senior market analyst atOANDA, said in a note.

Among other precious metals, silver XAG= gained 0.3% to$14.94 and platinum XPT= rose 0.7% to $813.35.

Palladium XPD= climbed 0.2% to $1,447.51 after hitting itshighest since April 29 at $1,450.39 earlier in the session.

The auto-catalyst metal gained 6.6% so far this week and isset to post its best week since week ended Sept. 21, 2018. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by JosephRadford and Gopakumar Warrier) ((Brijesh.Patel1@thomsonreuters.com; Within U.S. +1 651 8485832, Outside U.S. +91 8067493865; Reuters Messaging:Brijesh.Patel1.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))






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