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Jun 02, 2020 PRINT EDITION

Gold prices eased on Thursday as the U.S. dollar hovered near multi-week highs, while some investors locked in profits ahead of major central bank meetings this month.

The European Central Bank is meeting later in the day, followed by the U.S. Federal Reserve next Tuesday-Wednesday.

Spot gold was down 0.3% at $1,422.03 per ounce, as of 0532 GMT. U.S. gold futures were down 0.1% at $1,422.60.

"Gold prices have been range-bound. Some money managers are starting to shut some positions to prepare for the Fed meeting, and also the ECB decision coming out today," said Benjamin Lu, an analyst at Phillip Futures.

"People like to take in some profits because nobody knows what is going to happen. Some might capitalise on volatility to push prices slightly lower and buy back after the dip. Overall, on the long-term we are still bullish on gold," Lu added.

Weighing down gold prices, the U.S. dollar was hovering near a two-month high hit in the previous session. A stronger dollar makes gold costlier for holders of other currencies.

Investor focus shifted to the ECB meeting due later in the day and a widely expected interest rate cut from the Fed next week, which are expected to dictate the tempo for currencies and bond yields in coming months.

Lower U.S. interest rates put pressure on the dollar and bond yields, increasing the appeal of non-yielding bullion.

Further boosting hopes of lower interest rates, a series of purchasing manager index (PMI) readings in the United States and Europe on Wednesday came in weaker than expected.

Gold prices have climbed more than 12% or $150, since touching a 2019 low of $1,265.85 in early May, driven by a dovish outlook from major central banks, signs the U.S. economy is losing steam and an escalation in Middle East tensions.

"The gold rally will be vulnerable to the rhetoric of central banks, as their actions have for the most part been priced into the asset," Alfonso Esparza, a senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note.

Meanwhile, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, dropped 0.11% to 822.25 tonnes on Wednesday from Tuesday.

Spot gold remains neutral in a narrow range of $1,412-$1,427 per ounce, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Silver fell 0.6% to $16.48 per ounce, after hitting over a one-year high of $16.64 in the previous session.

Platinum rose 0.3% to $878.04 an ounce, its highest since May 7, while palladium gained 0.2% to $1,543.50, after touching a one-week high earlier in the session.

Copyright Reuters, 2019