* Palladium could climb to $1,530/oz in near term -UBS
* SPDR Gold holdings up by about 24 tonnes so far in August (Updates prices)
By Sumita Layek and Asha Sistla
Aug 22 (Reuters) - Gold inched lower on Thursday after comments from U.S. Federal Reserve officials dampened hopes for additional monetary easing, although investors awaited further clarity from the central bank chief at the Jackson Hole symposium.
Spot gold was down 0.2% at $1,498.45 an ounce by 1:42 pm EDT (1742 GMT), having earlier touched its lowest since Aug. 13 at $1,491.50. U.S. gold futures settled down 0.5% at $1,508.5.
“The entire market is in a wait-and-see mode, but there has been a steady stream of Fed speakers who have come out with a more hawkish message,” said Daniel Ghali, commodity strategist at TD Securities.
“This could be interpreted as an attempt to ready the markets for a less-dovish-than-expected speech from Fed Chair Jerome Powell.”
A day after minutes of the Fed’s July meeting showed policymakers were divided over interest rate cuts, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said he does not see the case for additional stimulus.
Focus is now on Powell’s speech on Friday during the central bank’s symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with market participants expecting him to clarify the July minutes and monetary policy direction.
Lower U.S. interest rates put pressure on the dollar and bond yields, increasing the appeal of non-yielding bullion.
“For the most part, traders just see this drop (in prices) as an opportunity to pick up a little bit more, but nobody is expecting any big moves out of Jackson Hole,” said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors.
Gold had briefly turned positive after U.S. manufacturing data released earlier in the day showed the first month of contraction in almost a decade amid concerns over whether the U.S.-China trade conflict would trigger a recession. Investors will also keep a close eye on the Group of Seven summit this weekend.
Meanwhile, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, have increased by about 24 tonnes so far this month.
Palladium rose 1.2% to $1,489.50 an ounce after nearing $1,500 on Wednesday.
“We expect palladium to climb to $1,530 in the near term. Although slower global growth and risk aversion act as headwinds, palladium remains supported by fundamentals,” UBS analysts said in a note.
“Rising palladium loadings as emissions regulations tighten offset weakness in global car sales, suggesting continued growth in demand. Given constrained supplies, this implies that market deficits are likely to persist.”
Palladium outshone gold for the first time in 16 years toward the end of 2018, but gold regained its edge over the autocatalyst metal on Aug. 1.
Silver fell 0.3% to $17.07 per ounce, while platinum edged 0.8% higher to $859.80. (Reporting by Asha Sistla and Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler)