PRECIOUS-Gold edges higher as focus shifts to central banker meeting

    * Investors await Jackson Hole speeches by Yellen, Draghi
    * Dollar eases after Trump threatens government shutdown
    * Palladium extends losses below 16-1/2-year high

 (Updates prices; adds comment, byline, NEW YORK dateline)
    By Marcy Nicholson and Zandi Shabalala
    NEW YORK/JOHANNESBURG, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged
up on Wednesday, drawing support from political uncertainty in
the United States and the weak dollar before a major central
banking conference there this week.
    Spot gold        was up 0.4 percent at $1,289.27 an ounce by
1:43 p.m. EDT (1743 GMT), hovering below last week's
nine-month-high at $1,300.80. U.S. gold futures         settled
up 0.3 percent at $1,294.70.
    "Gold's kind of hanging in there before this Jackson Hole
meeting. It is in a wait-and-see mode but we should have a
better idea of direction by the end of this week," Fawad
Razaqzada, a technical analyst at, said.
    "There can be an argument made for a bearish view on gold at
this stage. If the dollar were to come back due to short
covering and given the rally in U.S. stocks we saw yesterday,
the (dollar) buck-denominated and safe-haven metal could fall
out of favor."
    The U.S. dollar index        fell in a generally risk-averse
market after U.S. President Donald Trump's threat of a
government shutdown and comments about the possible termination
of a North American trade agreement.       
    "The price of gold appears stuck in the mud, looking for any
bit of news that can get the wheels spinning again," said Walter
Pehowich, executive vice president of investment services at
Dillon Gage Metals.
    "Helping a little is a weaker dollar and softer Treasury
    Markets are focused on a meeting of central bankers in
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, starting Thursday. Federal Reserve Chair
Janet Yellen and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi are
set to deliver speeches on Friday, on the outlook for monetary
policy and interest rates.                      
    Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, as
these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding
bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.    
    "Most of the people are now looking for hints from the
Jackson Hole meeting between the central bankers," Mark To, head
of research at Hong Kong's Wing Fung Financial Group, said.
    "The most important thing is economic fundamentals ...
Central banks are going to have tightening measures in monetary
policies to have normalization," To said.
    Gold was also buoyed by new U.S. North Korea-related
sanctions, targeting Chinese and Russian firms and individuals
for supporting Pyongyang's weapons programs.              
    Silver        rose 0.3 percent to $17.02 an ounce, while
platinum        was up 0.2 percent to $976.25.
    Palladium        lost 0.05 percent to $932, extending losses
below Monday's 16-1/2-year high at $940.

 (Additional reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by
Jane Merriman and James Dalgleish)