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Gold hits six-week high on Trump, Brexit concerns

Gold bangles are on display as a woman makes choices at a jewellery showroom during Dhanteras, a Hindu festival associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, in Kolkata, October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files

By Marcy Nicholson and Zandi Shabalala

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Gold rose to a six-week peak on Tuesday, supported by earlier weakness in the dollar ahead of a news conference on Wednesday by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

The market is looking for more clues on Trump's spending plans in the first speech since his shock election win in November.

The pound steadied and stocks rose worldwide after earlier weakness in the sterling (GBP=) and European equity markets on fears of a "hard" Brexit after British Prime Minister Theresa May said over the weekend she was not interested in Britain keeping "bits" of its EU membership. [GBP/] [MKTS/GLOB]

Gold, often seen as an alternative investment during times of political and financial uncertainty, benefited from the risk-averse sentiment in the market.

Spot gold (XAU=) hit its highest since Nov. 30 at $1,190.46 an ounce, and was up 0.4 percent at $1,185.36 an ounce by 3:19 p.m. EST (2019 GMT).

U.S. gold futures (GCcv1) settled up 0.05 percent at $1,185.50.

ABN AMRO commodity strategist Georgette Boele said the combination of a soft dollar, lower U.S. yields and risk aversion created a supportive environment for gold.

"We have this Trump conference coming up tomorrow and the market seems to be a bit nervous ahead of it," Boele said, adding that this sentiment would be short-lived as U.S. interest rates are expected to rise, denting gold.

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

However, ETF Securities analyst Martin Arnold said the dollar had rallied "too far, too fast" and that a pullback was likely which would support gold for a while to come.

Strong physical demand from the Chinese new year also buoyed prices, Marex Spectron's head of precious metals David Govett said. He said investors were starting to buy gold "as the great unknown of the Trump presidency looms."

Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell on Monday. [GOL/ETF]

Silver (XAG=) was up 1.3 percent at $16.77 an ounce, after rising to $16.90, its highest since Dec. 15.

"This year, we expect demand for silver from the photovoltaic sector segment to ease slightly, although the global total will remain comfortably the second highest on record," said Metals Focus in a note, adding that demand from the automobile industry will continue as well.

Platinum (XPT=) bucked the trend, slipping 0.2 percent to $972.50, while palladium (XPD=) rose 0.4 percent at $761.45.


(Additional reporting by Swati Verma and Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams and Meredith Mazzilli)