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PRECIOUS-Gold firms as dollar stalls; investors await U.S. data

    * Dollar holds near a three-week low 
    * Investors eye weekly jobless claims, March retail sales
data 
    * Bitcoin hits record high on Wednesday

 (Updates prices)
    By Diptendu Lahiri
    April 15 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged higher on Thursday
buoyed by a weaker dollar, while investors awaited U.S. weekly
jobless claims and March retail sales data for further clarity
on the recovery in the world's largest economy.
     Spot gold        was up 0.2% at $1,740.04 per ounce by 0505
GMT. U.S. gold futures        rose 0.2% to $1,740 per ounce.
    "A weaker dollar after the Fed speech and the central bank's
willingness to tolerate more inflation is keeping gold
supported," said Yingtao Jin, an analyst at StoneX Group. 
    "...slightly higher yields this morning and investors
shifting positions to digital currencies after bitcoin hit a
record high on Wednesday, are exerting downward pressure on the
metal."
    The dollar held near a three-week low against rival
currencies, while benchmark U.S. Treasury yields ticked up after
hitting a three-week low on Wednesday.            
    A weaker dollar makes gold cheaper for  buyers outside U.S.,
but rising yields increase the opportunity cost of holding the
metal that pays no returns.
     U.S. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank would
cut its monthly bond purchases before committing to an interest
rate hike, clarifying the sequence of monetary policy
adjustments are still months if not years in the future.
            
    Investors now await the release of U.S. weekly jobless
claims and March retail sales data due later in the day.
    Bitcoin            hit a record high on Wednesday as
Coinbase Global Inc          was valued at almost $100 billion
in a Nasdaq debut.             
    "Although gold has lost much of its appeal for investors in
2021 compared to 2020 and the technical picture has deteriorated
in favour of bears rather than gold bulls, deep corrections of
prices are still viewed as buying opportunities," Avtar Sandu,
senior commodities manager at Phillip Futures, said in a note.
    Silver        gained 0.2% to $25.45 and palladium        was
up 0.5% at $2,691.13. Platinum        rose 0.1% to $1,171.19. 

 (Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by
Uttaresh.V, Rashmi Aich and Shailesh Kuber)
  
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