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PRECIOUS-Gold edges higher on weaker dollar, lower U.S. yields

 (New throughout, updates prices, market activity and comments)
    * U.S. yields hit near 2-week low
    * Markets await U.S. data, further policy clues from Fed

    By Sumita Layek
    May 24 (Reuters) - Gold inched higher on Monday as a weaker
dollar and lower U.S. Treasury yields bolstered its appeal,
while investors awaited data due this week that should help them
assess the pace of economic recovery in the United States.
    Spot gold        was up 0.1% at $1,882.83 per ounce at 1:42
p.m. EDT (1742 GMT). Last week it reached its highest since Jan.
8 at $1,889.75. U.S. gold futures        settled up 0.4%, at
$1,884.5.
    A tick lower in the dollar and U.S. yields is acting in
gold's favour, Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO
Futures said, adding stronger equity markets were providing a
counterweight.     
    The dollar was down 0.2%. U.S Treasury yields fell to the
lowest in nearly two weeks, reducing the opportunity cost of
holding non-interest paying bullion.             
    Investors await to hear this week if Federal Reserve
speakers will stick to a patient policy. They are also waiting
for data, including on U.S. gross domestic product, jobless
claims and durable goods.
    "If (the data) comes out substantially better than expected,
that would probably be bearish for gold, because the likelihood
of a Fed taper (of its bond-buying programme) will be sooner
rather than later," Haberkorn said, adding if the data is
worse-than-expected, gold could trade north of $1,900 fairly
quickly.
    A crash in bitcoin            also supported gold prices,
analysts said.                 
    "Gold prices are very strong at these levels. There are any
number of things to scare investors into wanting to buy gold,
but we also have a situation where in Europe, U.S. and Canada,
where the vaccines are starting to have a positive effect," said
Jeffrey Christian, managing partner of CPM Group.
    "The economies are reopening and economic activity is strong
... Maybe gold prices could back off a little bit."
    Elsewhere, palladium        fell 1.8% to $2,734.45 per
ounce, silver        gained 0.8% to $27.75, and platinum       
rose 0.7% to $1,174.31.

 (Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru. Editing by Mark
Potter, Barbara Lewis and David Gregorio)
  
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