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PRECIOUS-Gold edges closer to 4-month high on weaker dollar, inflation fears

* Dollar slips to near three-month low

* Silver hits highest level since February (Updates prices)

May 18 (Reuters) - Gold hit nearly a four-month peak on Tuesday before easing slightly as yields on U.S. Treasuries inched higher, with a weaker dollar and inflation fears maintaining a floor under bullion prices.

Spot gold was up 0.1% to $1,868.57 per ounce by 1:47 p.m. EDT (1747 GMT) after hitting its highest level since Jan. 29 earlier in the session. U.S. gold futures settled at $1,868, largely unchanged from Monday.

“Yields just picked up just a notch,” said Phillip Streible, chief market strategist at Blue Line Futures in Chicago.

“The weaker dollar has provided most of the support. (But) gold has had a pretty good run, but it’s not in a bullish market at all.”

Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields inched higher, increasing the opportunity cost of holding gold.

The dollar index fell to near a three-month low, making gold cheaper for holders of other currencies.

“The narrative is clearly shifting towards inflation ... but perhaps more critically, you have got the U.S. dollar weakness, which is probably the key and prime driver,” said Ross Norman, an independent analyst.

Analysts also noted that inflows into gold exchange-traded-funds indicated investors were buying the precious metal to hedge against inflation worries.

In the wake of rising prices in the United States, the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting are expected to provide more clarity on its monetary policy outlook and policymakers’ views on inflation. The U.S. central bank is due to release the minutes on Wednesday.

“Fed will not be tempted to rock the boat in terms of the recovery which is gathering some momentum. Raising rates or discussion on tapering would probably be counterproductive at this stage,” Norman said.

Gold is also getting support from chart-based buyers after bullion broke above its 200-day moving average, considered to be a bullish signal.

Elsewhere, silver rose 0.3% to $28.26 per ounce after hitting its highest level since Feb. 2 in the session.

Palladium rose 0.1% to $2,904.87 per ounce, while platinum dipped 1.6% to $1,219.98.

Reporting by Sumita Layek and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Alexandra Hudson, Alexander Smith and Paul Simao

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