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Gold steady near 2-month highs on North Korea tensions

[BENGALURU] Gold prices held steady after touching their highest in over two months on Friday and were on track for a weekly gain, buoyed as rising tensions between the United States and North Korea triggered safe-haven buying.

"Much of the rally (in gold) is because of the increased safe-haven demand," said OCBC Bank analyst Barnabas Gan.

Trump warned North Korea again on Thursday not to strike Guam or US allies, saying his earlier threat to unleash "fire and fury" on Pyongyang if it launched an attack may not have been tough enough.

Geopolitical risks can boost demand for assets considered safe-haven investments, such as gold.

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Spot gold was nearly flat at US$1,285.76 per ounce at 0447 GMT and was set for a weekly gain of over 2 per cent. Earlier in the session, it marked its highest since June 8 at US$1,288.92 an ounce.

US gold futures for December delivery rose 0.2 per cent to US$1,291.80 per ounce.

"Traders should closely watch global equities today, with further falls and risk aversion likely pumping more safe-haven flows into precious metals," said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA.

Asian equity markets extended a global slide on Friday, sending investors fleeing to less risky assets such the yen, the Swiss franc and US Treasuries.

The market also awaited US consumer inflation data on Friday that would offer more clues about the pace of the US Federal Reserve's monetary tightening.

"I think with gold prices, we still have to be cautious. A lot of it (the rally) is due to the risk premium," said Mr Gan.

"A quick unwinding of prices to below US$1,250 an ounce is very possible, especially if the tensions ease quickly and if global growth continues performing the way it is, with most incoming economic data suggesting a rosy economic outlook."

Meanwhile, gold demand in India remained sluggish this week as local prices jumped to their highest level in nearly three months and a rally in global prices dampened fresh buying elsewhere in Asia.

Silver was nearly flat at US$17.08 per ounce after hitting US$17.24, its highest since June 14 in the previous session. It was on course for an over 5 per cent weekly rise, its highest such gain since July 2016.

Platinum climbed 0.2 per cent to US$978.00 per ounce after touching US$984.60 during the session, its highest since April 18. It was up about 2 per cent for the week so far.

Palladium climbed 0.2 per cent to US$898.30 per ounce and was on track to end the week 2.4-per cent higher.