November 22, 2018 / 11:10 AM / 21 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold gains as dollar dips and equities slide into red

(Updates prices, adds quotes)

* SPDR Gold holdings highest in three months

* Trade volumes subdued because of U.S. Thanksgiving holiday

* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns: (tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl)

By Swati Verma

BENGALURU, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Gold prices crept higher on Thursday towards a two-week peak scaled in the previous session, helped by an easing dollar and as investors sought refuge from weakness in financial markets on economic growth concerns.

Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,228.39 an ounce at 1326 GMT, though moves were contained by the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Prices on Wednesday had peaked at $1,230.07, the highest level since Nov. 7.

U.S. gold futures were up 0.1 percent at $1,228.90.

The dollar fell for a second day running, while Europe's share markets dropped into the red as investor worries mounted about slowing global growth.

"Weaker stocks tend to be supportive of the gold market, given the uncertainty that is prevailing in the market," said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen, adding that the softer dollar was also adding support.

Gold could be vulnerable to more gains if the dollar weakens further, making bullion cheaper for holders of other currencies, analysts said.

"Some of the recovery since we tested $1,200 last week has been driven by speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve might step back from its aggressive stance (on raising interest rates). If that signal grows stronger, we could see the dollar lose some momentum, which could be good for gold," Hansen said.

Markets expect the Fed to lift rates again in December, but concerns about a potential global slowdown raised doubts about the number of rate increases next year.

Investors are now looking ahead to the forthcoming meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. counterpart Donald Trump at this month's G20 summit in Argentina.

Bullion prices have recovered about 6 percent from 19-month lows hit in mid-August.

"There are massive speculative net short positions that need to be covered, therefore we expect gold prices to increase further towards year-end," said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

Investor interest was reflected in holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, which rose on Wednesday to their highest since the end of August at 762.92 tonnes.

"It shows a shift in the market perception that more investors regard gold as a necessary store of value," Fritsch said, adding that the "huge stock market correction" recently caught many investors on the wrong foot and has prompted a shift back into gold.

Among other precious metals, silver was down 0.2 percent at $14.46 an ounce, hovering near two-week highs hit in the previous session.

Platinum jumped 1 percent to $849.10, while palladium was steady at $1,148.41.

Reporting by Swati Verma in Bengaluru Editing by David Goodman

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