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Gold rises in thin trade; eyes second straight weekly drop

Gold bars are stacked at a safe deposit room of the ProAurum gold house in Munich March 6, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder/Files

By A. Ananthalakshmi

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Gold gained 1 percent in thin post-Christmas trading on Friday as the dollar slipped against a basket of major currencies, but the metal was headed for a second straight weekly drop, underscoring the bearishness in the market.

Spot gold gained 1 percent to $1,186.05 an ounce by 0711 GMT, moving away from a three-week low of $1,170.17 hit earlier in the week.

Liquidity was thin as key markets in the region such as Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore were closed on Friday. The U.K. market will remain closed, although New York will be open.

"The weaker dollar probably attracted some bids but volumes are really low and this rally might not last once everyone is back from the holidays," said a precious metals trader in Singapore.

The dollar index was 0.1 percent lower after climbing to a near nine-year peak earlier this week. [USD/]

"Physical demand is light because people have closed their books for the year, so I don't see that supporting prices either," the trader said.

Premiums in Singapore have dropped to between 80 cents and $1 an ounce over the global benchmark, from about $1.50 two weeks ago, traders said.

"Trading volumes between Christmas and the New Year can be notoriously thin. In a low-volume climate, bullion prices can move sharply in either direction on even light investor purchases or sales," HSBC analysts had said in a note this week.

Despite Friday's gain, the metal has lost about 1 percent for the week.

Bullion lost ground after data showed the U.S. economy grew in the third quarter at its quickest pace in 11 years. Other data showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped for the fourth straight week.

Strong data decreases gold's appeal as a safe-haven asset and increases expectations of an interest rate hike in the United States.

A higher dollar makes gold more expensive for holders of other currencies. An increase in rates is also seen to dull demand for non-interest-bearing bullion.

Among other precious metals, silver was on track for a second straight weekly decline, while palladium and platinum were headed for weekly gains.

(Editing by Himani Sarkar and Biju Dwarakanath)