PRECIOUS-Gold down after Trump says close to trade deal

(Updates prices)

* Palladium hits fresh record high of $1,944/oz

* Trump tweets deal with China “very close”

* ECB keeps rate unchanged at policy meeting

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns:

Dec 12 (Reuters) - Gold retreated from an over one-month peak in a volatile session on Thursday after U.S. President Donald Trump said Washington was close to a trade deal with China, denting the safe-haven metal’s appeal.

Scarce palladium’s record surge, meanwhile, showed no signs of abating.

Spot gold dropped 0.5% to $1,468.17 per ounce as of 1:44 p.m. ET (1844 GMT). Prices hit their highest since Nov. 7 at $1,486.80 earlier in the session.

U.S. gold futures inched down 0.2% to settle at $1472.30.

Trump said the U.S. was “very close” to nailing down a deal with China, helping world stocks soar to a record, and taking some steam off gold’s initial rally driven by the trade uncertainties ahead of a Dec. 15 deadline when new U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods come into effect.

“(Trump’s) tweet saw risk appetite bid, with capital flowing to equities. The problem for gold is that when everything else looks good, there’s less incentive to move into gold, which is what we’ve seen,” said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategies at TD Securities.

Also on investors’ radar was the British election, which will pave the way for Brexit under Prime Minister Boris Johnson or propel Britain towards another referendum that could ultimately reverse the decision to leave the European Union.

While major opinion polls suggest Johnson will win, any surprises could add further support to bullion, analysts said.

Palladium, meanwhile raced to a fresh all-time high of $1,944 in the session, up 1.4% at $1,936.99 an ounce.

The metal, set for a 15th straight gain, surpassed $1,900 for the first time on Tuesday as mines in major producer South Africa shut after flooding triggered severe power blackouts.

“Palladium has been one of the stars of not just the metals, but the commodities arena overall for the year,” said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.

“Just the power outages bring about more supply constraints to what is already a tightly supplied market with strong demand.”

Platinum rose 0.3% to $941.70 an ounce, having earlier touched an over one-month peak of $948.11.

Silver was also up 0.3% to $16.90. (Reporting by Karthika Suresh Namboothiri and Harshith Aranya in BengaluruEditing by Marguerita Choy and Cynthia Osterman)