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PRECIOUS-Gold eases from five-month peak as dollar firms on Brexit worries
Published at 10/12/2018 at 19:11

* SPDR gold holdings rose on Friday

* Dollar index rebounds from biggest weekly drop in three months

* Platinum hits three-month low

* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns:

(Updates prices)

By Swati Verma

Dec 10 (Reuters) - Gold edged lower on Monday as the dollar firmed against the pound on doubts about Britain's departure from the European Union, but falling equities and prospects of a slower pace of U.S. interest rate hikes in 2019 kept bullion near a five-month peak.

Spot gold was down 0.4 percent at $1,242.89 per ounce at 1:47 p.m. EST (1847 GMT), having touched $1,250.55, its highest level since July 11, early in the session. U.S. gold futures settled down $3.20, or 0.3 percent, at $1,249.40.

"With the vote on Brexit being pulled, there is a rise in the dollar which is keeping pressure on gold at the moment," said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

The pound slid to its weakest level in nearly 1-1/2 years against the dollar as British Prime Minister Theresa May postponed a parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal.

The dollar rebounded after posting its biggest weekly drop in more than three months last week on Brexit worries and as weak U.S. data reduced expectations of more U.S. interest rate increases.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise rates at its Dec. 18-19 meeting, but the focus will be on how many hikes will follow in 2019.

Gold tends to gain when rate hike expectations recede as lower rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion and weigh on the dollar, in which it is priced.

Meanwhile, losses on global stocks snowballed on Monday as fresh signs emerged that the U.S.-China trade dispute was taking a deeper toll on world economic growth.

"It's really encouraging that gold has risen to the $1,250 level at the same time when equities were soft and this really underpins gold's role as a safe haven," said Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke.

Gold rose more than 2 percent last week, its best performance since the week of March 23 and has recovered about 8 percent from a 19-month low of $1,159.96 in mid-August.

"With gold prices trading above the $1,240 per ounce resistance, we think that this breakout could have staying power," analysts at TD Securities wrote in a note.

"A change in tone by the Fed, combined with continued deterioration in sentiment with regards to U.S. growth that could continue to weigh on the dollar, should see the yellow metal supported."

Reflecting investor interest in the bullion, holdings in SPDR Gold Trust , the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.20 percent to 759.73 tonnes on Friday.

Among other precious metals, spot silver fell 0.8 percent to $14.50 per ounce, while palladium dipped 0.9 percent to $1,213.50.

Platinum fell 1.2 percent to $780.40 per ounce. The metal slipped to $775 earlier, its lowest price since Sept. 10.

(Reporting by Swati Verma and Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru Editing by Susan Thomas and Matthew Lewis)

((Swati.Verma@thomsonreuters.com +1-651-848-5832, outside N.America, +91-80-6749-6356/1298; Reuters Messaging: swati.verma.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))