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PRECIOUS-Gold hits over 6-month high on growth fears, stock volatility

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(Updates prices, adds comment, details)

* Australian dollar-denominated gold hits record high

* Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust rose on Wednesday

* Market awaits Fed Chair Powell views, non-farm payrollsFriday

By K. Sathya Narayanan

BENGALURU, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Gold prices scaled a more thansix-month peak on Thursday as worries about a global economicslowdown and volatility in equities boosted safe-haven buying,while a weaker dollar offered support.

Spot gold XAU= touched its highest since June 15 at$1,292.01 per ounce, and was up 0.6 percent at $1,291.81 at 0652GMT.

U.S. gold futures GCv1 were up 0.7 percent at $1,292.90per ounce.

"The weaker dollar lent some support for gold. People aremore interested in gold as the stock markets are under pressureand are looking at gold as a safe haven," said Peter Fung, headof dealing at Wing Fung Precious Metals in Hong Kong.

The dollar index .DXY fell over 0.3 percent. The Japaneseyen JPY= , also a preferred asset during times of economicvolatility, surged versus the U.S. currency on Thursday.

A softer dollar makes the greenback denominated bullioncheaper for investors holding other currencies.

Asian shares wobbled on Thursday, while U.S. stock futuresfell after a rare revenue warning from index heavy-weight AppleInc added to worries about slowing global growth. MKTS/GLOB

Adding to investor concerns, a meeting between U.S.congressional leaders and President Donald Trump on Wednesdaysaw no sign of an agreement to end a partial governmentshutdown.

Businesses in Britain's dominant services sector reportedthe slowest sales growth in two years during the final threemonths of 2018, another sign of a dampening economic growthahead of Brexit.

Markets will be looking for cues about interest rate hikesfrom a joint discussion between Federal Reserve Chair JeromePowell and former Fed chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke onFriday.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising interest rates, whichlift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

The market is also awaiting a closely-watched survey on U.S.manufacturing due on Thursday, followed by the December payrollsreport on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar-denominated gold XAUAUD=R hit a record high on Thursday at A$1,894.02 after the currency AUD= , often considered a gauge of global risk appetite, fellto its lowest level since 2009 in early Asian trade. USD/

Gold pushed higher as investors looked for a safe-haven dueto brutal moves in the Australian dollar, MKS PAMP Group traderssaid in a note.

"Australian producers were slow to realise the move but havesince been seen consistently selling, taking advantage of thevery bullish move."

Investor appetite for gold has reflected in the rise of SPDRGold TrustGLD , the world's largest gold-backedexchange-traded fund. SPDR holdings rose about 1 percent to795.31 tonnes on Wednesday. GOL/ETF

Among other precious metals, palladium XPD= gained 0.7percent to $1,263.55 per ounce.

Silver XAG= was up about 0.4 percent at $15.58 an ounce,while platinum XPT= dipped about 0.1 percent to $794.00 perounce. (Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan and Nallur Sethuraman inBengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin and Subhranshu Sahu) ((Sathya.Narayanan@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 651 8485832, outside U.S. +91 80 6749 3226/1298; Reuters Messaging:sathya.narayanan.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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