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AFP: Gold falls 2 pct to 2-wk low after dollar's rally
By Pratima Desai
LONDON, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Gold slipped to two-week lows on Friday as the dollar rallied and the market waited for an expected vote by the U.S. Congress on a $700 billion bailout package for financial firms.
Platinum hit a near-three year low of $936.50 an ounce. The metal used in autocatalysts is down more than 50 percent since a record high of $2,290 in March on economic weakness and falling car sales, especially in the United States.
The dollar rallied after data showed the September U.S. jobless rate unchanged at 6.1 percent, despite employers cutting payrolls at the steepest rate in 5-1/2 years. [USD/
Spot gold fell two percent to $818.70 an ounce, the lowest since September 17. It was at $826/828 an ounce at 1334 GMT compared with $835 late in New York on Thursday.
The vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on legislation to mop up banks' illiquid assets and ease the credit crunch, could go ahead later on Friday.
If the bill is approved then the dollar could stage a recovery and an easing of financial market tensions could see investors cutting gold investments.
"The financial bailout in the U.S. will go ahead, this is our working assumption, and there will be some money leaving the gold market," said Dan Smith, analyst at Standard Chartered.
"There will be a withdrawal as panic fades and the gold price will come off as we move into the fourth quarter. The bailout will improve confidence, but in the longer term it will mean a much weaker dollar and higher gold prices."
Analysts think worries about the budget deficit in the United States could persaude investors to sell U.S.-assets in the longer term, which would send the dollar tumbling.
A weaker dollar makes commodities priced in dollars cheaper for holders of other currencies, while gold is often used as a hedge against financial market trouble and price pressures.
"Although sentiment towards gold has improved significantly of late amid the financial market turmoil and concerns over the broader economy, prices have not continuously outperformed," said Barclays Capital in a research note.
Gold prices are down nearly 20 percent since a record high of $1,030 an ounce seen on March 17.
Platinum was at $946/966 an ounce from $960 late in New York on Thursday. More than 60 percent of global use in platinum goes to autocatalysts. Platinum is also used in jewellery.
Major automakers reported plunging U.S. sales for September, led by a 34 percent slide at Ford Motor Co, as the escalating credit crisis hit the industry and raised new doubts about when the world's auto market would stabilise.
"In our view, beyond short-term weakness, upside potential still exists for prices longer term, as supply problems are likely to persist given the power problems, the shortage of skilled labour and rising costs of production," Barclays said.
Silver was at $11.16/11.26 an ounce from $10.79 on Thursday and palladium at $192/202 from $191.50.