PRECIOUS-Gold set for fourth weekly gain on dovish Fed rhetoric
July 16 (Reuters) - Gold prices on Friday were headed for the fourth straight weekly gain, as investors took comfort from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's stance that the U.S. central bank would continue to support the economy and inflation will be transitory.
* Spot gold XAU= was flat at $1,829.14 per ounce by 0048 GMT, but gained 1.2% so far this week.
* U.S. gold futures GCv1 edged up 0.1% to $1,830.30.
* Powell faced sharp questions about inflation and banking regulation in a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, and repeated his pledge of "powerful support" to complete the U.S. economic recovery.
* Large stimulus measures tend to support gold, which is often considered a hedge against inflation and currency debasement.
* The Federal Reserve will shutter its asset purchases programme by end-2022, according to a Reuters poll, with a few more economists now predicting a rate hike as early as next year, but they pegged new COVID-19 variants as the biggest economic risk.
* Economy in China, a leading consumer of gold, grew slightly more slowly than expected in the second quarter, weighed down by higher raw material costs and new COVID-19 outbreaks, fanning expectations that policymakers may have to do more to support the recovery.
* Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO, GOLD.N said on Thursday its second-quarter gold production fell 5.4% from the previous quarter, dented by planned maintenance shutdowns at Nevada Gold Mine in U.S. and Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic.
* Silver XAG= was flat at $26.32 per ounce, palladium XPD= rose 0.1% to $2,731.96, and platinum XPT= dipped 0.1% to $1,136.94.
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(Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
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