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Gold headed for 2nd losing week as dollar firms

Absence of stimulus measures in the United States buoyed the dollar and its safe haven appeal

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Gold traded nearly flat on Friday, but remained on course for a second consecutive week of losses as worries about the euro zone debt crisis and the absence of stimulus measures in the United States buoyed the dollar and its safe haven appeal.

Gold edged slightly higher right after China released its second-quarter growth data, which showed the world's second-largest economy grew at the slowest pace since early 2009 but may have stabilised.

But it gave up the gains soon, as investors remain focused on the possibility of further from the U.S. Federal Reserve, which seems remote for the time being.

"The QE story is off the table now. Could it come back? Yes, it could, but the window of opportunity is closing and the latest they can do it is August," said Dominic Schnider, an analyst at UBS Wealth Management in Singapore.

"If we don't see any news, we will just grind lower."

Gold could fall to $1,480 an ounce if it breaks the immediate support level at $1,520, he added.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,570.14 an ounce by 0333 GMT, heading for a weekly decline of 0.8 percent.

The U.S. gold futures contract for August delivery edged up 0.3 percent to $1,570.10.

Spot gold could rebound to $1,581 an ounce during the day, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.

The dollar index hovered near a two-year high hit in the previous session, on course for a second week of rise. It has lodged a 4-percent gain so far this year, compared to a 0.4-percent rise in spot gold for the same period.

The dollar and U.S. Treasuries have outshone gold as safe haven of choice among investors fleeing the risk posed by a slow down in the global economy. A stronger dollar weighs on commodities priced in the greenback.

Schnider also said the lack of incremental gold purchases makes it difficult for gold to hold onto lofty price levels.

"The market is in oversupply -- production growth is solid and we simply don't see incremental gold purchases," he said.

China, the world's top gold producer, churned out 140.7 tonnes of gold in the first five months of the year, up 6.6 percent on the year.

In comparison, physical buying has been sluggish in recent months in Asia, home of the world's top two gold consumers China and India.

Holdings of gold-backed exchange-traded funds dropped for the third straight session on Thursday to 70.4 million ounces, down 0.7 percent from a peak of 70.9 million ounces in March.

Investors will be watching Italy's 5.25 billion euros bond auction later in the day after Moody's downgraded the country's government debt rating by two notches and warned it could cut it much further.

U.S. Treasuries rose in price on Thursday as worries over Europe's debt crisis and its possible repercussions on the global economy fed safe-haven buying, pushing benchmark yields to near historic lows.

Other precious metals with industrial applications, including silver, platinum and palladium, inched up after the China growth data, which fell within expectations, eased worries about deteriorating economic conditions.

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