Gold prices were trading close to three week highs on Friday as a global selloff sent equities markets lower, while hopes that U.S. interest rates will remain on hold for longer also underpinned demand for the precious metal.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for June delivery ended Friday’s session at $1,318.60 an ounce. In the previous session gold rose to highs of $1,324.90, the most since March 24.

The precious metal ended the week with a gain of 1.53%.

Safe haven demand for gold was boosted on Thursday, amid steep declines in global markets, which saw the tech-heavy Nasdaq index drop 3.1%, its biggest daily loss since August 2011.

Heightened geopolitical risk also continued to underpin gold prices as Ukraine's government attempted to reassert control in the eastern city of Slaviansk, after pro-Russian separatists seized power.

Gold, seen as a safe haven investment, usually benefits from economic and geopolitical turmoil.

Gold prices also strengthened after Wednesday’s minutes of the Federal Reserve’s March meeting eased fears over a rate hike.

The Fed’s March meeting minutes showed that policymakers discussed whether to keep interest rates at record lows until inflation moves higher, and did not elaborate on a possible timeframe for when rates could start to rise.

Last month the U.S. central bank reduced the monthly pace of purchases by $10 billion, to $55 billion, and repeated it is likely to continue paring the program in “further measured steps.”
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