Gold prices scaled their highest levels since late April on Friday and were on track for a fifth consecutive weekly gain amid anticipation of slower rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve and fears of a possible recession.

Spot gold eased 0.1% to $1,928.98 per ounce, by 1148 GMT, after rising to its highest since April 22 last year at $1,937.49 earlier in the session. Prices rose 0.5% this week so far.

U.S. gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,929.70.

"Much of this move (in gold) has been prompted by shifting sentiment with respect to the Fed's rate cycle," StoneX analyst Rhona O'Connell said.

Also helping is "the desire to mitigate risk from factors such as inflationary forces, how the central banks are managing them, and mixed views over the outlook for equities against an uncertain economic backdrop."

Fed funds futures are pricing in a smaller 25-basis-point interest rate increase by the U.S. central bank in February, after recent economic data showed signs of cooling inflation.

Gold tends to gain when rate hike expectations recede because lower rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

However, several Fed policymakers have recently signalled they will push on with more interest rate hikes, with a few supporting a top policy rate of at least 5% to curtail inflation despite signs the economy is slowing.

"Gold has climbed so much already before the Fed, and other central banks, actually hit pause on their rate hikes and this leaves the precious metal highly vulnerable to a sudden price drop if interest rates do not stop climbing as soon as anticipated," Kinesis Money analyst Rupert Rowling said in a note.

Elsewhere, silver gained 0.3% to $23.91 per ounce. Platinum edged down 0.1% to $1,031.51, and palladium lost 1.3% to $1,732.41, with both metals en route to a second consecutive weekly fall.

(Reporting by Kavya Guduru in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Shinjini Ganguli)