By A. Ananthalakshmi
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Gold was hovering near one-week highs on Friday and was on track for its biggest weekly climb in five weeks after the U.S. Federal Reserve postponed the tapering of its bullion-friendly stimulus measures.
But gains were likely to be capped during Asian hours as key buyer China was closed for the mid-autumn festival.
"The market will take some time to digest the 'no-taper' surprise," said Victor Thianpiriya, an analyst at ANZ in Singapore, adding that economic data would take on more significance going forward.
"We expect the U.S. dollar to trade on the weak side, and this should support gold in the near-term at an expected higher range of $1,350-$1,400."
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Wednesday refused to commit to begin reducing the central bank's bond purchases this year, and instead went out of his way to stress the programme was "not on a preset course". Many had expected a $10 billion cut to the $85 billion monthly bond purchases following strong economic data.
Bullion, which has dropped nearly 20 percent this year in anticipation of a wind down of U.S. stimulus, has gained from short covering and technical buying since the Fed's statement on Wednesday.
Spot gold had eased 0.02 percent to $1,364.11 an ounce by 0211 GMT, not far from a one-week high of $1,374.54 hit on Thursday. It has gained nearly 4 percent this week.
The Fed is scheduled to hold its next policy meeting on October 29 and 30. A new Fed chairman is also expected to be announced by then.
"The prospect of any tapering this October remains data-dependent, and speculative interest may remain soft as investors continue to play a wait-and-see game for incoming U.S.-centric economic data," OCBC Bank said in a note.
If the Fed announced tapering in the October meeting, prices could fall to $1,250 by year-end, the analysts said.
"However, should the Fed refrain from any moderation in its bond purchase programme for the rest of the year, gold is likely to rally pass $1,400 in 2013 before setting a downward course once again in 2014."
Physical buying in key consumers India and China has been subdued and looks unlikely to offer much support to prices.
While China is away on a holiday, India has called a meeting of top officials from the finance and trade ministries in New Delhi on Friday to break a two-month impasse on gold imports that has crimped supply and pushed up prices in the world's biggest consumer of the metal.
(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Joseph Radford)
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