PRECIOUS-Gold inches higher as inflation data looms, set for fourth monthly gain

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- Gold prices edged up on Friday and were on track for a fourth straight monthly gain, while investors awaited a key U.S. inflation reading that could provide further insights into the Federal Reserve's policy path.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold XAU= was up 0.2% at $2,346.18 per ounce, as of 0141 GMT. Bullion prices are up 0.5% so far this week.

* U.S. gold futures GCcv1 rose 0.1% at $2,345.20.

* Gold prices have gained 2.7% so far this month after hitting a record high of $2,449.89 on May 20.

* Fed policymakers continue to expect inflation to fall this year even as the labor market stays strong, leaving them in no hurry to cut the policy rate from the 5.25%-5.5% range they have kept it in since last July.

* Investors are now awaiting the April reading on the personal consumption expenditures price index, the Fed's preferred inflation gauge, due at 1230 GMT.

* Traders' bets signalled growing skepticism that the Fed will cut rates more than once in 2024, currently pricing in about a 64% chance of a rate cut by November, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.

* Bullion is known as an inflation hedge, but higher rates increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding gold.

* Russian mining and metals giant Nornickel GMKN.MM lowered its forecast for the global nickel surplus this year, but said it expected a bigger global palladium deficit.

* Days after miner BHP BHP.AX launched its takeover bid for rival Anglo American AAL.L in April, the CEOs of both headed for South Africa, where a condition to divest Anglo's local platinum and iron ore assets was causing a political storm.

* Spot silver XAG= fell 0.2% to $31.11 per ounce, platinum XPT= was down 0.2% at $1,022.70 and palladium XPD= lost 0.2% to $946.25.


DATA/EVENTS (GMT)

0130 China NBS Manufacturing PMI May

0600 UK Nationwide House Price MM, YY May

0645 France GDP QQ Final Q1

0645 France CPI (EU Norm) Prelim MM, YY May

0645 France CPI Prelim MM, YY NSA May

0645 France Producer Prices YY April

0900 EU HICP Flash YY May

0900 EU HICP-X F, E, A&T Flash MM, YY May

1230 US Consumption, Adjusted MM April

1230 US Core PCE Price Index MM, YY April

1230 US PCE Price Index MM, YY April


(Reporting by Sherin Elizabeth Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

((sherinelizabeth.varghese@thomsonreuters.com;))

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