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Gold prices slipped on Friday, weighed down by an uptick in Treasury yields on prospects of U.S. interest rate hikes and a stronger dollar, although bullion was on course for its best week since mid-November.

Spot gold was down 0.3pc at $1,817.46 per ounce by 12:34 p.m. ET (1734 GMT). U.S. gold futures fell 0.2pc to $1,816.90.

Benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yields firmed, while the dollar rose 0.4pc against its rivals, making bullion costlier for overseas buyers.

Gold gained briefly after the release of data showing retail sales tumbled by 1.9pc in December as Americans struggled with shortages of goods due to supply chain bottlenecks and an explosion of COVID-19 infections.

Gold flat ahead of US inflation data

Gold is acting a placeholder in people's portfolios "until the dust settles" in terms of where the economy is going, said Philip Streible, chief market strategist at Blue Line Futures in Chicago.

The weak data this week could eventually either cause a selloff in wider markets or prompt the Federal Reserve to curb rate hike expectations, and gold gets a tailwind either way, Streible added.

However, overall declines in the dollar this week put bullion on track for a weekly gain of about 1.2pc, its biggest percentage rise in nine weeks.

Gold is considered a hedge against surging inflation, but interest rate hikes translate into higher opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

"Considering that markets will ultimately remain intensely focused on the Fed's exit, fewer sources of upside flow in the coming weeks could leave gold prices vulnerable to a consolidation", TD Securities said in a note.

Spot silver fell 0.8pc to $22.89 an ounce, and was en route to post a 2.6pc weekly gain.

Platinum was unchanged at $969.50 and was set to gain about 1.5pc this week, while palladium fell 0.8pc to $1,872.20 and poised for a weekly drop of nearly 3pc.

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