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BENGALURU: Safe-haven gold gained on Thursday as persistent tensions in the Middle East added to the metal’s appeal despite robust economic data from the US that raised prospects of fewer interest rate cuts.

Spot gold firmed 0.8% at $2,378.53 per ounce at 9:44 a.m. ET (1344 GMT). Prices touched an all-time high of $2,431.29 last Friday. US gold futures rose 0.2% to $2,392.90. In the Middle East, Israel has signalled it will retaliate to a volley of attacks from Iran despite calls for restrain from Western countries but has not said how.

“When there are geopolitical tensions, the natural response is for investors to flee to gold, which is happening now. If the conflict further escalates, prices could go north of $2,500-$2,600, and if there is a ceasefire, then they could fall to $2,200,” said Everett Millman, chief market analyst with Gainesville Coins.

“Central bank purchases are also placing a floor beneath the prices,” he added.

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