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Written by: Staff
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TOKYO, May 12 (Reuters) Gold prices edged down on Friday after reaching a 26-year high the previous day as traders adjusted positions ahead of the weekend and as Tokyo futures prices were pressured by a higher yen.

However, there was plenty of bargain-hunting demand due to a slew of factors including lingering geopolitical jitters, inflationary concerns and recent weakness of the dollar.

''I'm really wordless. It took two years for gold to rise from $400 to $500. It just took nearly a half a year for it to rise from $500 to $600 and it only took less than a month to rise from $600 to $700,'' said Akira Doi, director at Daiichi Commodities.

Doi referred to the rise of $400-$500 between November 2003 and November 2005. Gold broke through $600 on April 11 and it rose beyond $700 on Tuesday.

''There are many bullish factors, while all the factors have been the same for a while, but massive speculative funds kept on flowing into gold. We all know that it's overdone but we don't know what can really stop this trend.'' At 0341 GMT, spot gold was trading at $717.25/718.75 an ounce compared with $721.60/722.60 in late New York, where it had reached $726 -- the highest since January 1980. It had hit a record high of $850 during the same month in 1980.

Gold was under pressure on Friday as short-term fund operators and traders were keen to lock in profits after spot gold gained about 8 percent this week.

Gold has risen 40 percent this year and 70 percent in the past 12 months as investors diversify into precious metals as a hedge against global tensions, including those over U.S.-Iran relations, high oil prices and dollar instability.

Bullion was also capped as the yen-based Tokyo Commodity Exchange gold futures <0#JAU:> were pressured by the yen's climb to an eight-month high of around 109.94 to the dollar.

A higher yen effectively lowers the value of yen-based gold.

The benchmark most-distant April TOCOM contract ended the morning session at 2,573 yen per gram, down 1 yen or 0.04 percent from Thursday. It was moving in a range of 2,572 to 2,587 yen.

Platinum reached a fresh record high of $1,300 per ounce as active speculative buying in TOCOM platinum futures spilled into dollar-based spot platinum.

Platinum was also buoyant amid speculation that Johnson Matthey , the world's top distributor of the metal, would produce a bullish report on the market next week.

''No matter how high platinum goes there are demand to buy it from end-users, especially from car makers,'' Doi said.

Platinum was trading at $1,290/1,295, down from $1,293/1,298 in New York. It was moving in a range of $1,295 to $1,300.

Sister metal palladium was at $393/398 an ounce, slightly down from $395/400 in New York.

Silver fell to $14.80/14.90 an ounce from $14.94/15.04 in New York.

REUTERS CS GC1017

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