Gold eases as dollar ticks up, but set for fifth weekly rise

FILE PHOTO: Gold bullion is displayed at GoldSilver Central's office in Singapore

By Seher Dareen

(Reuters) - Gold prices edged lower on Friday as the dollar firmed, although hopes of slower rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve kept bullion on track for its fifth straight weekly gain.

Spot gold fell 0.2% to $1,928.06 per ounce by 1:49 p.m. ET (1849 GMT), after rising to its highest since April 22 at $1,937.49 earlier in the session. Prices are up 0.4% so far this week.

U.S. gold futures settled up 0.2% at $1,928.2.

"The U.S. dollar is finding some form of stability and in turn we could see gold prices heading lower into next week," said Daniel Ghali, commodity strategist at TD Securities.

The dollar was steady against its rivals, making gold more expensive for holders of other currencies. [USD/]

However, recent weak U.S. economic readings and hawkish remarks from Fed policymakers fuelled worries over a global slowdown and prompted investors to seek refuge in the safe-haven metal. [MKTS/GLOB]

Commentary from Fed officials has pointed to a terminal rate above 5%, but traders still bet on rates peaking at 4.9% by June and see a 93.7% chance for a 25-basis-point rate hike in February.

Gold tends to gain when rate hike expectations recede, because lower rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

While there has been an accumulation of gold by various central banks and agencies, gold ETFs held by individuals have been decreasing. Were ETF buying to return, that would limit any overbought dip in the metal, said Caesar Bryan, portfolio manager of the Gabelli Gold Fund. [GOL/ETF]

Elsewhere, silver rose 0.3% to $23.90 per ounce. Platinum gained 0.8% to $1,040.50, while palladium dipped 1.7% to $1,725.04, with both metals en route to a second consecutive weekly fall.

"When it comes to physical markets, platinum has received substantial amount of support from challenges in South Africa’s mining sector. We continue to expect platinum to outperform palladium," Ghali added.

(Reporting by Seher Dareen in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Alistair Bell)