LONDON (Reuters) - Gold prices hit a two-week high on Tuesday as the dollar fell on fading prospects of an imminent increase in U.S. interest rates and expectations of stronger demand from the physical market.
Spot gold was up 0.5 percent at $1,240.51 an ounce at 1346 GMT, having touched $1,242.52, its highest since July 3. U.S. gold futures rose 0.2 percent to $1,239.80.
The dollar sank to a 10-month low against a basket of currencies, making dollar-denominated metals cheaper for holders of other currencies, which could boost demand.
"We see gold averaging around $1,300 over the third quarter," said ING commodities strategist Warren Patterson.
"Indian imports are rising after the very poor year last year. We expect that trend to continue even with the tax changes."
Data from consultancy GFMS shows India's gold imports climbed to an estimated 75 tonnes in June from 22.7 tonnes a year earlier. For the first half of the year imports rose to 514 tonnes, up 161 percent year on year.
GFMS analysts said the jump was caused by Indian consumers buying ahead of July's increase in the goods and services tax on gold to 3 percent from 1.2 percent.
Weighing on the dollar is the collapse of U.S. President Donald Trump's efforts to deliver a new healthcare bill in a market deeply worried by the pace of America's economic growth.
"The Fed is unlikely to be able to increase rates again soon, possibly not again this year, and it will certainly not rush to reduce its balance sheet," ICBC Standard Bank analysts said in a note.
However, investors are still retreating from physical gold. Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, slipped to 827.07 tonnes on Monday, down from 828.84 tonnes on Friday.
On the technical front, resistance kicks in at $1,245-$1,247, the 55-day and 100-day moving averages respectively. Those are followed by $1,250, a Fibonacci retracement level. Support is around $1,230, near the 21-day and 200-day moving averages.
Meanwhile the price of silver gained 1 percent to $16.23 an ounce after touching a two-week high at $16.26.
Platinum gained 0.4 percent to $925.1 while palladium slipped by 0.1 percent to $863.7.
(Additional reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by David Goodman)