PRECIOUS-Gold firm as dollar holds near 1-week lows

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 17, 2017 06:40 hrs

Feb 17 (Reuters) - Gold held firm early on Friday as the dollar hovered near one-week lows, putting the precious metal on track for a third week of gains amid political uncertainties in the U.S. and Europe. FUNDAMENTALS * Spot gold was mostly unchanged at $1,237.83 per ounce at 0049 GMT, while U.S. gold futures were down 0.2 percent at $1,239. * Gold is up 0.3 percent so far for the week, and has risen about 7.5 percent so far this year. * The dollar index , which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, was at 100.580. It hit an one-week low of 100.410 on Thursday. * Concern over U.S. President Donald Trump's policies, as well as elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany this year, have fueled gold's rise to a peak of $1,244.67 on Feb. 8. * But the prospect of a higher dollar and U.S. Treasury yields after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that U.S. interest rates may need to be raised in March pushed gold to $1,216.41 on Wednesday, its lowest since Feb. 3. * U.S. residential construction and employment data on Thursday showed that the economy continued to rebound. * European Central Bank policymakers called for a steady-hand approach at last month's rate meeting, the minutes of the gathering showed, suggesting little appetite for dialling back stimulus while Europe gears up for high-stakes elections. * European Union officials urged Greece and its lenders on Thursday to conclude a long-overdue bailout review quickly to safeguard economic recovery but Athens said it wouldn't ask "a euro more" from its austerity-wracked citizens. * Confidence among Japanese manufacturers rose for a sixth straight month in February to a 2-1/2 year high but the service sector's mood fell for the first time in four months, a Reuters poll showed, underscoring the export-led nature of the economic recovery. * Canada's Avnel Gold will suspend production at its loss-making Kalana underground mine in Mali for 18 months from June to expand its operations and build a new processing plant, the West African nation's mines ministry said. * South Africa's Gold Fields on Thursday announced a rise in profits and a long-awaited plan to make its South Deep mine profitable, with a production target of 500,000 ounces a year. * Investors are picking up on the benefits for Mexican silver miners of one of the biggest foreign exchange stories since November's U.S. election, with the slide in the peso pushing costs lower while silver prices are ramping up. DATA AHEAD (GMT) 0900 Euro zone Current account Dec 0930 Britain Retail sales Jan 1500 U.S. Leading index Jan (Reporting By Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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