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PRECIOUS-Gold prices hover near 4-1/2-month high on weak dollar, inflation jitters

    * Bitcoin plummets as China clamps down on crypto mining
    * SPDR Gold Trust holdings rose 0.6% on Friday
    * Specs raise gold bullish positions in week ended May 18 -
CFTC

 (Updates prices)
    By Brijesh Patel
    May 24 (Reuters) - Gold prices climbed on Monday to hover
near a 4-1/2-month high, supported by a weaker U.S. dollar and
growing inflationary pressure, while a slide in cryptocurrencies
further lifted the safe-haven metal's appeal.
    Spot gold        was up 0.2% at $1,883.12 per ounce by 0638
GMT. Last week, gold prices hit their highest level since Jan. 8
at $1,889.75.
    U.S. gold futures        rose 0.4% to $1,883.40 per ounce.
    "The U.S. dollar index remains relatively weak and the
manufacturing and service PMI's from the United States and
Europe actually raised the prospect of inflation in months to
come," Margaret Yang, a strategist at DailyFX said.
    "Recent slide in cryptocurrencies also boosted the appeal of
gold as an alternative investment asset. Gold's upward momentum
is very strong and it is likely to challenge a key psychological
level at $1,900 in the days to come."
    The dollar stood near its lowest levels in three months
against the resurgent euro and other European currencies, making
gold cheaper for other currency holders.       
    Rising U.S. inflationary risks have spooked markets after
data showed a rise in consumer prices and pick-up in factory
activity, lifting gold's appeal as an inflation hedge.
            
    Indicative of sentiment, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust      ,
the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.6%
to 1,042.92 tonnes on Friday. Speculators raised their net long
positions in COMEX gold in the week ended May 18.          
       
    Further contributing to gold's move, bitcoin            fell
13% on Sunday, sending it down ~50% from the year's high after
Beijing stepped up its efforts to crack down on bitcoin mining
and trading.             
    Spot gold looks neutral in a range of $1,875 to $1,893 per
ounce, and an escape could suggest a direction, according to
Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.         
    Elsewhere, palladium        rose 0.4% to $2,794.18 per
ounce, silver        gained 0.7% to $27.71, and platinum       
climbed 0.1% to $1,167.99.

 (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry
Jacob-Phillips)
  
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