PRECIOUS-Gold slips on profit taking but North Korea tensions persist
* U.S-North Korea tensions support gold * Markets await Fed Yellen's speech at 1645 GMT * GRAPHIC-2017 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Updates prices) By Zandi Shabalala LONDON, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Gold eased under pressure from the dollar on Tuesday, with investors booking profits after rising tensions between North Korea and the United States pushed the metal to a one-week high. Spot gold was down 0.7 percent to $1,300.50 per ounce at 1345 GMT, after earlier marking its highest since Sept. 20 at $1,313.54. It gained more than 1 percent the previous session. U.S. gold futures fell 0.6 percent to $1,303 per ounce. The precious metal was hit by profit taking, but relations between North Korea and the United States continued to deteriorate, said Commerzbank commodity analyst Carsten Fritsch. "Geopolitics haven't come off the table. They are still front and centre but after a rally you tend to get a tiny bit of a pullback," said ETF Securities commodity strategist Nitesh Shah. North Korea appears to have boosted defences on its east coast, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, after the North said U.S. President Donald Trump had declared war and that it would shoot down U.S. bombers flying near the peninsula. Bullion is used as an alternative investment during times of political and financial uncertainty, generally gaining along with U.S. Treasuries and the Japanese yen. The U.S. dollar index gained 0.5 percent against a basket of currencies, making commodities including gold more expensive for holders of other currencies. Elsewhere, investors awaited a speech on "inflation, uncertainty, and monetary policy" by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, in Cleveland at 1645 GMT. Ahead of Yellen's speech, Fed officials gave mixed signals on the likely path for interest rate increases. New York Fed President William Dudley said the U.S. central bank was on track to gradually raise rates, given factors that have depressed inflation are "fading", while two other Fed officials expressed the need to stay put on further tightening. Gold is highly exposed to interest rates and returns on other assets, as rising rates lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion. Political concerns kept world stocks down for a fourth straight session. In physical demand, China's net gold imports via main conduit Hong Kong plunged 55 percent in August from the previous month, data showed on Tuesday. Meanwhile, silver was on track for its biggest intraday fall in over a week. The metal was down 1.5 percent to $16.95 per ounce. In the previous session, prices rose more than 1 percent. Platinum fell 1.3 percent to $925.75 per ounce, after registering its biggest one-day percentage gain since Sept. 7 in the previous session. Palladium steadied near $911.