PRECIOUS-Gold rises on softer dollar, but set for worst quarter in over 4 years

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* U.S. Treasury yields on track for fourth straight monthly gain

* Dollar edges off near 5-month peak

* Gold set for a third consecutive monthly decline

* Palladium set for best monthly gain since February 2020

March 31 (Reuters) – Gold gained over 1% on Wednesday, helped by the dollar’s pullback, but elevated U.S. bond yields still put the metal on course for its biggest quarterly decline in more than four years.

Spot gold rose 1.5% to $1,710.45 per ounce by 12:47 p.m EDT (1647 GMT), after touching its lowest since March 8 at $1,677.61. U.S. gold futures were up 1.5% at $1,711.60.

Gold is down over 9% for the quarter and is on track for its worst quarterly performance since end-December 2016.

“As we’ve seen bond yields stabilize and the dollar pull back off its recent highs, we have seen a little move off the lows in the gold market,” said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.

The dollar edged off a near five-month peak.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s “very large structural stimulus plan” has contributed to concerns over inflation and should support gold markets, Meger said.

“The market is watching to see whether or not the $1,680 support level is going to hold,” said Daniel Ghali, TD Securities commodity strategist.

Bullion is seen as a hedge against inflation, but rising Treasury yields have challenged that status as they translate into a higher opportunity cost to hold bullion.

Among other precious metals, platinum gained 2.7% to $1,186.15 an ounce and palladium climbed 1.2% to $2,620.72, en route to its best month since February 2020.

Russia’s Nornickel,a major platinum and palladium producer, said on Monday it had stopped water flowing into its two major mines in the Siberian Arctic.

The Arctic mine closures have drastically reduced platinum and palladium group metal production and could lead to an even tighter market than previously anticipated, Ghali said.

Silver rose 1.6% to $24.41, but was down over 8% for the month.

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