PRECIOUS-Gold jumps to near 7-year high as Mideast tensions spur safe-haven appetite

    Jan 6 (Reuters) - Gold soared to its highest in nearly seven
years on Monday, as intensifying tensions in the Middle East
drove investors towards the safe-haven metal, while palladium
surpassed $2,000-level to hit a record high.
    * Spot gold        rose 1.4% to $1,573.14 per ounce by 0124
GMT. It rallied as much as 1.8% and touched its highest since
April 10, 2013 at $1,579.55 earlier in the session. U.S. gold
futures        gained 1.6% to $1,577.80.
    * Palladium        hit an all-time peak of $2,011.48 an
ounce and was last up 1% at $2,006.32.
    * Iraq on Sunday called for U.S. and other foreign troops to
leave amid a growing backlash against the U.S. killing of a top
Iranian military commander that has heightened fears of a wider
Middle East conflict.             
    * U.S. President Donald Trump threatened sanctions against
Baghdad on Sunday for the move, and said if troops did leave,
Baghdad would have to pay Washington for the cost of the air
base there.             
    * Iran announced on Sunday it would abandon limitations on
enriching uranium, taking a further step back from commitments
to a 2015 nuclear deal with six major powers.             
    * Bullion is considered a safe asset during times of
financial and geopolitical uncertainty.
    * Further supporting bullion, Asian shares headed lower on
account of tensions in the Mideast.            
    * The U.S. Federal Reserve acknowledged the current rate
stance to be appropriate in their final policy meeting of 2019.
Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding
non-yielding bullion.                          
    * India's gold imports in 2019 fell 12% from a year ago to
the lowest level in three years, as retail buying faltered in
the second half after local prices rallied to a record high, a
government source said on Friday.             
    * Physical gold buying was subdued in major Asian hubs last
week as higher prices dampened demand for the metal ahead of the
Chinese New Year.         
    * Elsewhere, silver        gained 2% to $18.39 per ounce,
while platinum        rose 0.6% to $985.87.

0500   India     IHS Markit Svcs PMI            Dec
0850   France    Markit Serv, Comp PMIs         Dec
0855   Germany   Markit Services PMI            Dec
0855   Germany   Markit Comp Final PMI          Dec
0900   EU        Markit Serv, Comp Final PMIs   Dec
0930   UK        Reserve Assets Total           Dec
1445   US        Markit Serv, Comp Final PMIs   Dec

 (Reporting by Asha Sistla in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)