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NEW YORK: Gold prices rose to an 11-week high on Thursday after the US Federal Reserve gave no clear signal on the likelihood of a March interest rate increase in its latest statement, prompting another drop in the US dollar.

The US currency slipped to the lowest since mid-November against a basket of currencies, but gold pared gains as the dollar turned positive later in the session.

Spot gold struck its highest level since Nov 17 at US$1,225.30 an ounce, and was up 0.6% at US$1,216.10 by 1922 GMT. US gold futures for April delivery settled up 0.9% at US$1,219.40.

“Gold… successfully traded through its resistance at $1,220,” Heraeus trader Alexander Zumpfe said. “If it closes above there, the short-term uptrend is back and a test of US$1,235 might be on the cards.”

The weakening dollar was the main factor driving gold higher, along with concerns about political risk, said Afshin Nabavi, head of trading at MKS.

““Gold has benefited on the back of yesterday’s FOMC meeting and recent US policy statements,” said RBC Capital Markets in a research note.

““Overall, this provides further support to our view that gold is likely best bought as a risk overlay this year. We are not necessarily a buyer at current levels and prefer buying on likely dips.”

US non-farm payroll data for January will be closely watched on Friday. The report is seen as a key barometer of the health of the US economy and will be examined for signs that growth is strong enough to support further interest rate hikes.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising US rates, which increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.

Investors’ interest in gold rose after the US currency suffered its worst January in 30 years. The world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Shares, reported its biggest one-day inflow in nearly four months on Wednesday, of 10.7 tonnes.

That has helped to support gold despite the absence of many Asian buyers because of the Lunar New Year holiday this week.

“The sharp rebound after a pull down below US$1,200 and the Asian pricing model, despite the Chinese New Year, seem favourable,” said Spencer Campbell, general manager with Kaloti Precious Metals in Singapore. “We see a lot of bullish signals.”

Among other precious metals, silver was down 0.3% at US$17.46 an ounce, while platinum was up 0.10% at US$997. Palladium was at US$756.98. – Reuters

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