PRECIOUS-Gold slips on steady dollar, but political tensions support

    * Gold heads toward third straight quarterly rise
    * Silver set to post 3.7 pct quarterly loss
    * Platinum hits more than five-month low
    * Palladium on track for biggest quarterly loss since

 (Updates prices, adds analyst comment, adds NEW YORK to
    By Renita D. Young and Eric Onstad
    NEW YORK/LONDON, March 29 (Reuters) - Gold prices slipped on
Thursday as the U.S. dollar held its strong gains from the
previous session, but simmering tensions over Russia and a
potential trade war offered underlying support.
    Gold posted its biggest one-day percentage fall in nearly
nine months on Wednesday after robust U.S. data lifted the
dollar, which steadied at those strong levels on Thursday.
    Spot gold        dipped 0.1 percent to $1,323.19 per ounce
by 1:38 p.m. EDT (1738 GMT), after hitting $1,321.21 its lowest
level since March 21.
    U.S. gold futures         for June delivery settled down
$2.70, or 0.2 percent, at $1,327.30 per ounce. 
    "There was an easing of tensions in the Far East regarding
North Korea, but there's still tension between the West and
Russia ... this can boil over again and support gold," said
Carsten Fritsch, commodity analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.
    North Korea and South Korea will hold their first summit in
more than a decade on April 27, South Korean officials
    Moscow threatened to retaliate after the United States and
other Western countries expelled more than 100 Russian diplomats
over the poisoning of Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal
and his daughter in England with a military-grade nerve toxin.
    Concerns about a global trade war have eased but that does
not mean it is over, said Brian Lan, managing director at dealer
GoldSilver Central in Singapore.
    Often seen as an alternative investment at times of
political and financial uncertainty, gold was on track for a
third straight quarter of gains, up 1.6 percent so far.
    United States precious metals markets will be closed on
Friday for the Good Friday holiday.             
    Meanwhile, spot silver        was up 0.25 percent at $16.30
per ounce after falling to $16.20, a one-week low. Silver was on
track to post a quarterly loss of 3.7 percent after two quarters
of modest gains.
    Platinum        dropped 0.3 percent to $928.50 per ounce, 
after hitting $922.50, the weakest level since late December.
The metal was down about 5.4 percent so far this month, on
course to post its worst month since September.
    Palladium        lost 2.1 percent to $945.75 per ounce,
earlier hitting $938.22, its lowest level since Oct. 11, and was
set to fall more than 9 percent this month, the steepest drop
since December 2016.
    "Speculators had been quite bullish in palladium for a
while, now paring back bets since palladium came down from
recent highs," said Daniel Ghali, commodities strategist at TD
    For the quarter, palladium dropped 10.6 percent, its biggest
quarterly loss since the end of December 2015. 

 (Reporting by Renita D. Young in New York and Eric Onstad in
London, additional reporting by Swati Verma and Eileen Soreng in
Editing by Adrian Croft and Matthew Lewis)