PRECIOUS-Gold eases as robust U.S. data trims aggressive rate cut hopes

(Adds comments, details; Updates prices)

* Palladium slumps over 3% to a three-week low of $1,510/oz

* Silver hits more than four month high of $15.69/oz

* Platinum scales two-month peak of $850.62/oz

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns:

July 16 (Reuters) - Gold prices fell on Tuesday after better-than-expected U.S. retail sales data lowered expectations of an aggressive interest rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve, boosting the dollar.

Spot gold inched down 0.4% to $1,408.74 per ounce as of 1:36 p.m. EDT (1736 GMT). U.S. gold futures settled about 0.2% lower at $1,411.20.

“The (gold) market is more reliant on the macro factors to be driven higher. If we continue to see stronger data like the retail numbers, it presents a headwind for the market,” said Suki Cooper, precious metals analyst at Standard Chartered Bank.

“The key event the market is tracking is the July FOMC meeting and the Fed rate cut expectations, and we have seen that the expectations have declined a little bit.”

The U.S Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.4% last month as households stepped up purchases of motor vehicles and a variety of other goods.

The dollar rose 0.5% against major rivals on the upbeat U.S. data, making greenback-denominated assets costlier for investors holding other currencies.

“We’ve seen a return to big-news-is-bad-news scenario whereby a strong piece of data, which could discourage the U.S. Fed from cutting interest rates, is having big implications on the market,” OANDA senior market analyst Craig Erlam said.

Meanwhile, spot palladium fell over 3% to touch its lowest in three weeks at $1,510 per ounce. The metal was last down about 3.3% at $1,516.43 per ounce.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Washington still has a long way to go to conclude a trade deal with China but could impose tariffs if needed.

Trump earlier said that slowing economic growth in the world’s second largest economy showed U.S. tariffs were having “a major effect” and Washington could add pressure.

“(The drop in prices) are due to a combination of weak economic growth in China along with a technically driven selloff after reaching a strong level of resistance,” David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures said adding, Trump’s comments were an “added negative.”

The auto-catalyst metal briefly surpassed a key psychological level of $1,600 on Thursday, a level last touched in March. The failure to sustain above the recent high has caused a bout of profit taking, Meger said.

Among other precious metals, silver rose 1.5% to $15.62 per ounce, after touching its highest since Feb. 28 at $15.69 earlier in the session.

Platinum was up 0.2% at $840.98, after touching its highest since May 15 at $850.62. (Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan and Karthika Suresh Namboothiri in Bengaluru; editing by Marguerita Choy and Chizu Nomiyama)