* Dollar holds close to over four-month peak
* SPDR Gold ETF holdings down over 140 tonnes so far this year
* Gold could average $1,775/oz- Standard Chartered (LON: STAN )
By Nakul Iyer
March 26 (Reuters) - Gold prices gained slightly on Friday but a stronger dollar and a rise in U.S. Treasury yields put the metal on course for its first weekly decline in three weeks.
"Dips are being bought and rallies are being sold into (in the gold market) ... there are clearly two definitive sides of a coin and this is the main focal point," David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures, said.
A firmer dollar and rising yields pressuring gold are one side of the coin and rising coronavirus cases and the Fed's low-interest rate policy lifting it are the other, Meger added, noting it remains unclear which side will ultimately prevail.
Gold's modest gains came despite a firmer dollar and an uptick in benchmark yields, which have weighed on its appeal recently.
A stronger dollar makes holding greenback-denominated bullion more expensive for those holding other currencies, while higher yields raise the non-yielding metal's opportunity cost.
But, "beyond the near term, the macro backdrop is set to remain supportive of gold as the dollar weakening trend resumes and we expect real yields to remain negative," Standard Chartered analyst Suki Cooper said in a note.
In the near term, gold lacks a macro catalyst to drive it higher but physical demand should limit its downside, she added, predicting it to average $1,775 in the second quarter. GOL/AS
The biggest gold-backed exchange traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust HLDSPDRGT=XAU , has seen outflows of more than 140 tonnes so far this year.
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