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PRECIOUS-Gold set for best year in a decade with 24% rise

 (Adds comments, updates prices)
    * Britain approves AstraZeneca's vaccine
    * Silver up 48% this year, on track for best year since 2010
    * Palladium up for 5th straight year, gaining 22% in 2020
    * Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus:
tmsnrt.rs/3mvcUoa

    By Nakul Iyer
    Dec 31 (Reuters) - Gold prices fell on Thursday as hopes for
an economic recovery next year increased risk appetite, although
the precious metal was set to wrap up the year with its best
performance in a decade.
    Spot gold        fell 0.2% to $1,889.58 per ounce by 0353
GMT. but was up more than 24% for the year. 
    U.S. gold futures        were little changed at $1,892.90.
    Asian shares were set to end the year at record highs as
investors pinned hopes on a swift economic recovery next year,
also pressuring the dollar.                  
    "The dollar is going to weaken quite precipitously until Q1,
giving gold a clear runaway to do well right out of the gates
next year," Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at
Axi, said, adding that inflation remained key to gold's
trajectory.
    Boosting hopes for a faster economic recovery next year,
Britain on Wednesday approved Oxford University and AstraZeneca
       's vaccine to combat a fast-spreading coronavirus
variant.                                     
    Also weighing on bullion was Republican Senate Majority
leader Mitch McConnell's refusal for a quick vote on a bill to
increase U.S. relief checks to $2,000, saying it had "no
realistic path to quickly pass the Senate."             
    Unprecedented stimulus measures and low-interest rates to
cushion economies from the pandemic's blow this year have
benefited gold as it is seen as a hedge against inflation. 
    "Once inflation kicks in into Q2 and it actually goes very
high, the Fed is going to start pulling back and this is when
it's going to get tricky for gold," said Innes.
    Silver        fell 0.9% to $26.38 per ounce but was up more
than 48% this year - its best performance since 2010. 
    Platinum        dropped 0.5% to $1,060.18 per ounce but was
up 10% in 2020. Palladium        rose 0.3% to $2,368.68 per
ounce and was on track for a fifth straight year of gains with a
22% rise.

 (Reporting by Nakul Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu
Sahu and Anil D'Silva)
  
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