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Gold steady as investors turn cautious ahead of French vote

Gold
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Gold prices treaded water on Friday as investors awaited the outcome of weekend French elections and possible announcements about tax cuts in the United States.

Spot gold was up 0.33 percent to $1,285.58 per ounce, on track for its first weekly drop in six.

U.S. gold futures for June delivery added $5.30 to settle at $1,289.10.

"The big news over the weekend will be the French election and the market will be to an extent on hold ahead of that," said Mitsubishi commodities analyst Jonathan Butler.

There was the potential for safe-haven buying of gold after France said its security forces were fully mobilised for a presidential election at the weekend after the killing of a policeman by an Islamist militant.

"Into the near term, if the geopolitical tensions intensify, there is a chance that gold prices will reach $1,300 or more," OCBC analyst Barnabas Gan said.

Moving above $1,290/91 would be significant as it would break above a downtrend that has been in place since gold touched an all-time high of $1,920.30 in 2011, Butler said.

Investors will be keeping a close eye on events in the United States, he added.

"Over next week or so, I think we'll start to see whether the reflation trade is back on, which might be backed up by some announcements from the U.S. administration on tax reform."

The Trump administration will unveil a tax reform plan very soon and expects it will be approved by Congress this year whether a healthcare overhaul happens or not, Treasury Secretary
Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday.

Gold is at risk of some profit taking after its strong recent run, but should be supported by other factors, analysts said.

"Gold struggled to hold this week's gains as the dollar strengthened and concerns over global risk eased. However, selling was relatively muted, which suggests a period of consolidation is now upon us," ANZ analysts wrote in a note.

SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.76 percent to 854.25 tons on Thursday.

The outflows follow an 11.8-ton increase on Wednesday, the biggest one-day inflow since
September.

Spot silver declined 0.49 percent to $17.91, extending losses into the fifth session. Silver has shed about 3 percent so far this week.

"Once it starts to reach these new highs and with prices above $18 as they were earlier in the week, it does present an opportunity of profit-taking for the less committed investors," said Butler.

Platinum slipped 0.23 percent to $975.30, while palladium lost 1.10 percent to $791.22 after rising over 3 percent in the previous session.