* 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:
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
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: email@example.com))