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PRECIOUS-Gold eyes worst quarter in over 4 years on stronger dollar, yields

 (Updates prices)
    * U.S. Treasury yields on track for fourth straight monthly
gain
    * Dollar heads for best month since November 2016
    * Gold set for a third consecutive monthly decline
    * Palladium set for best monthly gain since February 2020

    By Brijesh Patel
    March 31 (Reuters) - Gold was on track for its biggest
quarterly decline in more than four years on Wednesday, as
elevated U.S. bond yields and a stronger dollar diminished the
safe-haven bullion's appeal.
    Spot gold        was little changed at $1,687.02 per ounce
by 1106 GMT, having earlier touched its lowest since March 8 at
$1,677.61. U.S. gold futures        were up 0.1% at $1,687.20.
    For the quarter, the metal is down more than 11% and is on
track for its worst quarterly performance since end-December
2016. Gold is also headed for a third straight monthly decline.
    "The extraordinary strength of the dollar and also U.S.
Treasury yields is weighing massively on gold. In short, at the
moment, it looks like gold is going to be under some pressure,"
said independent analyst Ross Norman.
    "Gold seems to be ignoring a lot of good news stories like
massive stimulus spend, at the moment. It's just simply working
lockstep with those two other assets (dollar and yields)." 
    Some investors view gold as a hedge against higher inflation
that could follow stimulus measures, but a recent spike in U.S.
Treasury yields has weighed on the non-yielding commodity.      
    The U.S. dollar        scaled a near five-month peak and is
set for its best month since November 2016.       
    Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden is set to outline how he
intends to pay for a $3-$4 trillion infrastructure plan, after
saying 90% of adult Americans would be eligible for vaccination
by April 19.                          
    "Gold and silver markets seem to be looking beyond a third
wave to focus on the projected vaccination progress, especially
in the United States," Julius Baer Analyst Carsten Menke said.
           
    "We expect a further fading of safe-haven demand against
this backdrop and do not treat this sell-off as an opportunity."
    Silver        rose 0.3% to $24.08 per ounce, but was down
nearly 9% for the month. 
    Platinum        gained 2.1% to $1,178.35, while palladium
       climbed 1.5% to $2,627.68 and was heading for its best
month since February 2020.

 (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V
and Elaine Hardcastle)
  
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