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Gold rises ahead of bumper week for central bank news

[NEW YORK] Gold rose on Monday ahead of a series of central bank meetings and US President Donald Trump's expected announcement of the next Federal Reserve chair, and amid a slightly weaker US dollar.

The metal is facing a slew of potential risks this week, including a two-day US Federal Reserve policy meeting, US payrolls data on Friday and ongoing unrest in Spain's Catalonia region.

"Gold has been more of a safe-haven investment, because of risks involved in diversifying European assets," said John Lawrence, senior metals trader for Heraeus Precious Metals in New York.

Spot gold was up 0.3 percent at US$1,275.76 an ounce by 2.52pm EDT (1852 GMT), little changed from its late Friday level but well off that session's three-week low of US$1,263.35. US gold futures for December delivery settled up US$5.90, or 0.5 per cent, at US$1,277.70 per ounce.

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The Bank of Japan and Bank of England also meet this week to consider interest rate policies.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising rates, which increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion. Tighter US policy also boosts the dollar, in which the metal is priced.

While the dollar index has taken a step lower on Monday, it remains close to its highest since mid July.

US politics, including the indictment of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, pressured the dollar.

Fed governor Jerome Powell, considered a moderate, is widely tipped to take over from Janet Yellen when she steps down as Fed chair in February.

Mr Trump has said he has been considering Powell and Stanford University economist John Taylor for the post and has also not ruled out re-nominating Yellen.

"The front end of the US rates curve doesn't seem to have priced in a Taylor Rule Fed ... which means that a surprise would send yields and the dollar higher, and risk assets down," SG Forex said in a note on Monday.

"The market thinks Jerome Powell, more neutral in the market's mind, is more likely."

Speculators cut their bullish COMEX gold bets by 1,968 contracts to 173,043 contracts, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data showed on Friday, the fewest since early August.

Among other precious metals, silver up 0.04 per cent at US$16.817 an ounce. Platinum was down 0.16 per cent at US$913 an ounce, while palladium was down 0.1 per cent at US$964.50 an ounce.

REUTERS

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