* Gold down for 7th straight session, near 4-week low
* Physical demand slow as consumers await further price
(Adds quotes, updates prices)
By A. Ananthalakshmi
SINGAPORE, May 17 (Reuters) - Gold fell for a seventh
straight session on Friday as the dollar strengthened and
investors cut exposure to the metal, sending holdings in
exchange-traded funds to their lowest in four years.
Gold has lost nearly 6 percent of its value in the six
sessions through Thursday as stocks gained on the back of strong
U.S. economic data, and on fears the Federal Reserve could end
its bullion-friendly bond buying program.
Spot gold was down 0.53 percent at $1,378.41 an ounce
by 0346 GMT, having fallen to a four-week low of $1,369.29 on
Thursday as renewed liquidation in gold ETFs and a recent drop
below the $1,400-per-ounce level spooked investors.
The metal is down 17 percent for the year and is on track
for its worst weekly decline in a month.
Physical demand was also quiet on Friday as consumers in the
biggest gold buyers, India and China, wait for prices to
stabilize or drop further, traders and dealers said.
"Many people are waiting on the sidelines as they are
expecting another drop," said Brian Lan, managing director of
GoldSilver Central Pte Ltd in Singapore.
Demand in India is being hurt by central bank curbs on gold
imports. Limits on bank consignments have hit supply and
triggered a sharp jump in premiums.
Indian gold futures fell 1.5 percent on Thursday, extending
losses for a second straight session to their lowest level in
nearly a month, in line with global markets.
Lan said buying in India had fallen significantly from
Monday, when India celebrated Akshaya Tritiya, considered an
auspicious day to buy gold.
Premiums quoted in India on gold bars were as high as $5 an
ounce, another physical dealer said.
Premiums for gold bars in Hong Kong, the main source of gold
for China, hit record highs this week.
"Premiums for gold kilo bars has increased quite
substantially. In Asia, gold bars are hard to come by," Lan
Gold demand fell 13 percent to a three-year low of 963
tonnes in the first quarter, as rising jewellery demand and
strong appetite for coins and bars failed to offset a sharp drop
in investment, the World Gold Council says.
Spot gold is headed towards a low last seen in April, when
fears of European countries liquidating gold reserves sent gold
SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, said holdings fell 0.55 percent to 1041.42
tonnes on Thursday, the lowest in four years.
U.S. gold for June delivery was down 0.69 percent at
Japanese shares slipped and Asian equities were broadly
steady on Friday after a U.S. Federal Reserve official said the
central bank might begin to taper its asset buying this summer,
lending support to the dollar.
PRECIOUS METALS PRICES 0346 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume
Spot Gold 1378.41 -7.28 -0.53 -17.68
Spot Silver 22.50 -0.16 -0.71 -25.69
Spot Platinum 1472.75 -6.25 -0.42 -4.06
Spot Palladium 735.22 -0.78 -0.11 6.25
COMEX GOLD JUN3 1377.30 -9.60 -0.69 -17.81 15421
COMEX SILVER JUL3 22.48 -0.18 -0.81 -25.65 3721
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Lewa Pardomuan and