SINGAPORE Gold steadied near $1,230 an ounce on Friday, largely holding sharp overnight gains as a drop in U.S. equities stoked fresh safe-haven demand for the metal.
* Spot gold eased 0.2 percent to $1,229.84 an ounce by 0045 GMT, after gaining 2 percent on Thursday.
* For the week, gold is down 0.7 percent, snapping a four-week winning streak as the metal gave back some gains after climbing to a one-year high last week.
* On Thursday, U.S. equities snapped a three-day rally, while European equities fell back in a choppy session after climbing to a two-week high earlier in the session.
* Other safe-haven assets also rose, with the yen hitting a fresh 2-1/2 year high on the euro. [USD/]
* Inflows into gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs), holdings of which have already risen this year by more than they fell in the whole of 2015, showed investor appetite for bullion has sharpened.
* Assets in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's top gold ETF, rose 0.38 percent to 713.63 tonnes on Thursday.
* Gold is also being supported by rising speculation that the Federal Reserve would not be able to hike U.S. interest rates due to concerns about the global economy and financial volatility.
* Economists polled by Reuters now see just two rate hikes this year. Traders are betting even odds at best of a single rate hike.
* San Francisco Fed President John Williams said on Thursday that U.S. central bank should stick with its plan to raise interest rates gradually.
* In the physical markets, Asian gold demand slowed this week as consumers opted to wait out the metal's biggest rally in years, with discounts in key consumer India hitting a record high as some investors cashed-out holdings. [nL3N15X3EP
* Switzerland's gold exports fell to a three-month low in January as combined shipments to China and Hong Kong fell sharply from the previous month's highly elevated level.
(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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Updated Date: Feb 19, 2016 07:00:14 IST