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Gold rises; U.S. crude gains 3.3%, posts first monthly gain since June

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Gold rose today as mixed U.S. data tempered expectations of a U.S. Federal Reserve rate hike this year.

Gold futures settled up $3 to $1,213.10 an ounce. Gold has fallen about 7 percent from a five-month high above $1,300 an ounce hit in January as expectations of a U.S. rate increase hurt its appeal as an insurance against risk.

The dollar steadied against a basket of leading currencies and was still on track for its eighth straight month of gains.

Data released today showed U.S. economic growth braked more sharply than initially thought in the fourth quarter amid a moderate increase in business inventories and a wider trade deficit, but strong domestic demand brightened the outlook.

In other metals trading, silver rose 0.2 percent to $16.56 an ounce.

Palladium rose 1.1 percent to $815.95 an ounce, and platinum was up 0.9 percent at $1,183 an ounce.

In energy trading, crude snapped a seven month losing streak today, supported by an improving demand outlook and supply outages.

U.S. April crude settled up 3.3 percent, or up by $1.59, at $49.76 a barrel. The contract posted a 3 percent gain for the month of February, its first monthly gain since June.

The U.S. crude contract's gains have been hemmed in by rising crude oil inventories in the United States, up 8.4 million barrels last week, according to government data.

Brent April crude was up $3.90 at $62.40 a barrel, on pace to post a 16 percent monthly gain, the first monthly rise since June.

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