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NEW YORK: Gold prices hovered around the key $1,800-per-ounce level on Thursday ahead of the year-end holidays, even as the dollar steadied and appetite for riskier assets improved on easing fears over a fallout from the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Spot gold was up 0.1% to $1,805.29 per ounce by 1512 GMT, while US gold futures rose 0.2% to $1,805.20 per ounce.

“This is just noise on a low-volume day ahead of Christmas,” said Daniel Pavilonis, a senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

He added that next year was bound to be good for gold, especially with high inflation likely to persist.

Taking some shine off bullion, the dollar index steadied, making the metal less appealing for overseas buyers.

But the greenback was near a one-week low and its recent retreat helped gold stay on course for a small weekly gain.

Global shares, bond yields and riskier currencies all hit recent highs on Thursday as investor confidence grew on signs that Omicron might be less severe than feared, as well as robust US economic data.

“Gold faces technical resistance at $1,815 and $1,826, with geopolitical risks ahead potentially keeping gold supported, despite the tapering narrative,” said Nicholas Frappell, a global general manager at ABC Bullion.

Earlier this month, the US Federal Reserve signalled its inflation target had been met and paved the way for three quarter-percentage-point rate hikes by the end of 2022.

Although bullion is considered a hedge against inflation, rate increases would result in a higher opportunity cost of holding non-yielding gold.

Investors also kept a tab on developments surrounding Russia’s standoff with Western powers over Ukraine.

Spot silver was steady at $22.77 per ounce, and platinum was down 0.5% to $959.93 per ounce, rising 2.1% and 3.1% respectively so far this week.

Palladium gained 0.7% to $1,894.54 per ounce, and climbed about 6.5% for the week.

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