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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.

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