HANOI, May 20 (Reuters) - The Vietnamese dong fell to the 18-day low on Monday against the U.S. dollar on unofficial markets in Hanoi as investors shifted interest to hard currency after global gold prices eased to the lowest in a month, bankers said.
The inconvertible dong dropped to 21,310/21,340 per dollar at 0258 GMT, down nearly 0.4 percent from Friday, as gold fell for an eighth straight session to hit its weakest in over a month.
The dong moved to 21,370 per dollar on Hanoi's unofficial market on May 2.
'Whenever (world) gold prices drop, dollar often gains and now people are buying dollar,' a money market dealer at a Vietnamese bank based in Ho Chi Minh City said.
Gold in Vietnam fell to 40.47/40.69 million dong ($1,932-$1,943) per 37.5-gram (1.3 ounce) tael at 0335 GMT on Monday from 40.67/40.89 million dong last Friday, based on the quotation of Ho Chi Minh City-based Saigon Jewelry Co (SJC).
SJC-branded gold bars are the only brand allowed to trade in Vietnam, a move by the central bank to help curb the flow of smuggled gold from neighbouring countries, thus to reduce pressure on the domestic currency.
The dong fell also after the government on Monday revised its target for economic expansion this year to more than last year's 5.03 percent, pulling back from its earlier projection of 5.5 percent.
The Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund all have projected Vietnam's economic growth this year at 5.2 percent, well below the Vietnamese government's previous target.
(Compiled by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Martin Petty) Keywords: VIETNAM DONG/DOLLAR
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