PRECIOUS-Gold eases as strong equities check support from Iran sanctions

* Gold down more than 5% from Feb highs

* Platinum off a 2-week peak hit in the previous session

* Palladium resumes fall having dropped as much as 3.5% on Monday

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: (Updates prices)

April 23 (Reuters) - Gold edged lower on Tuesday as strong equities provided a risk-conducive backdrop for investors, countering support from Washington’s move to end waivers on Iranian oil sanctions.

Spot gold fell 0.1 percent to $1,273.18 per ounce as of 0750 GMT. U.S. gold futures shed 0.2 percent to $1,275 an ounce.

“Gold is currently trying to find a short-term bottom around $1,274-1,275 an ounce level, especially as equity markets continue to rally,” said Margaret Yang, an analyst with CMC Markets in Singapore.

Asian shares were edging towards a nine-month peak touched last week while stocks on Wall Street were near break-even on Monday as the benchmark S&P 500 index was about 1 percent away from the record high hit in September.

Strong equities have dented gold’s appeal, with the metal now more than 5 percent below its 2019 peak touched in February.

Better-than-expected economic readings from both the United States and China have also assuaged investor concerns of a sharp global economic slowdown.

Markets now eye the release of the U.S. GDP data later in the week, which will provide clear indications about the strength of the world’s largest economy.

However, heightened geopolitical tensions between the United States and Iran, with the former terminating all Iranian sanction waivers on Monday, pushed oil prices higher and also supported prices for the metal, Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst with OANDA, said.

Gold is positively correlated to oil as the metal is often seen as a hedge against oil-led inflation.

“But, this (oil price rise) is not enough to change the general sentiment surrounding gold. It just seems to be marking time, before other factors like a stronger dollar or equities exert downward pressure on the market,” Halley added.

The dollar index was also near a 2019 high of 97.71, struck in early March.

“Gold looks vulnerable to a further extension lower through $1,270, opening a test toward the 200-day moving average at $1,251,” analysts at MKS PAMP Group said in a note.

An bearish stance on gold was also reflected in the data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which showed that speculators switched to a net short position in COMEX gold in the week to April 16.

Elsewhere, silver fell 0.2 percent to $14.95 per ounce. Platinum was steady at $894.41 per ounce having hit a two-week high of $911.75 in the previous session.

Palladium was 0.8 percent lower at $1,374.91 per ounce, having shed as much as 3.5 percent to $1,373 in the previous session. (Reporting by Arijit Bose in Bengaluru; editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Shreejay Sinha)