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Gold on track for weekly rise as Middle East risks loom

FILE PHOTO: Gold bars are pictured at the plant of Argor-Heraeus, in Mendrisio

By Ashitha Shivaprasad

(Reuters) - Gold prices rose on Friday and logged a fifth consecutive weekly rise, as fears of further tit-for-tat retaliation between Iran and Israel triggered safe-haven demand.

Spot gold was up by 0.7% at $2,395.15 per ounce as of 1:45 p.m. ET (1745 GMT), after rising as high as $2,417.59 earlier in the session. Prices were up 2.2% this week.

U.S. gold futures settled 0.7% higher at $2,413.8.

Explosions echoed over an Iranian city early on Friday in what sources described as an Israeli attack, but Tehran played down the incident and indicated it had no plans for retaliation.

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"The escalation and de-escalation situation in the Middle East has taken hold of the markets. If the situation does de-escalate, then gold will pull back or consolidate as safe-haven buying dries up," said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.

"However, longer term, higher uptrend in gold will continue as the Federal Reserve might not be cutting rates as soon as the market expects."

Fed officials have coalesced around the idea that there is no urgency to cut interest rates. The market currently sees a about 67% chance of a rate cut in September.

Elevated interest rates reduce the appeal of holding non-yielding gold.

Gold, which has notched strong gains this year, will rise further on robust Chinese demand outlook and macro uncertainties, Chinese state-backed research house Antaike said.

Spot silver rose 1.6% to $28.66.

Meanwhile, HSBC lowered its 2024 average price forecasts for platinum to $1,055 per ounce from $1,105 and palladium to $1,095 per ounce from $1,138.

"A feature of both the palladium and the platinum markets has been weak prices in the face of substantial deficit," it added.

Spot platinum fell 0.4% to $931.22, and palladium slipped 0.6% to $1,016.91. Both metals posted weekly declines.

(Reporting by Ashitha Shivaprasad in Bengaluru; Editing by Christina Fincher and Ravi Prakash Kumar)