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 NEW YORK: US gold futures hit a record high for a third straight day Thursday on inflation worries and expectations the European Central Bank's first rate hike since the 2008 financial crisis would weaken the dollar.

* COMEX June gold futures settled up 80 cents at $1,459.30 an ounce.

* Ranged from $1,453.7 to $1,466.5 an ounce, a record high.

* Gold prices and the dollar both benefit from the ECB rate hike due to widening differentials between euro zone and the US interest rates, said Frank McGhee, head precious metals trader of Integrated Brokerage Services.

* The ECB raised rates by 25 basis points to 1.25 percent to counter inflation pressure.

* Gold has risen more than 2 percent this week, benefiting from rallies in crude oil and corn and as Portugal requested a European Union bailout.

* Bullion came off an all-time high of $1,464.80 an ounce after another strong earthquake hit Japan. The precious metal was up 0.1 percent in late trade after retreating from the session high along with global equities and agricultural commodities.

* Spot gold gained 0.1 percent to $1,459 by 2:41 p.m. EDT (1841 GMT).

* London afternoon gold fix at $1,459.50 an ounce.

SILVER

* COMEX May silver ended up 16.5 cents at $39.552 an ounce, tracking gold.

* Ranged from $39.200 to $39.720 an ounce.

* Silver gained 0.3 percent at $39.56 an ounce, just off the previous session's 31-year high at $39.75.

* Industrial demand for silver is expected to rise less than 10 percent this year, as prices more than doubled to 31-year highs since late 2010, according to head of metals research and consultant GFMS.

* London silver fix at $39.51 an ounce.

PLATINUM

* NYMEX July platinum finished down $7.2 at $1,790.60 an ounce as investors took profits.

* Spot platinum was off 0.2 percent to $1,783.50 an ounce.

PALLADIUM

* NYMEX June palladium closed down $4.35 at $780.25 an ounce on platinum's coattails.

* Spot palladium shed 0.5 percent to $774.47. Prices at 2:41 p.m.

Copyright Reuters, 2011

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