October 30, 2019 / 4:01 PM / 22 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold gains ahead of Fed; palladium hits record high

* U.S. Fed policy statement due at 1800 GMT

* Palladium hits record high of $1,824.50 an ounce

* Gold trend positive if prices hold above $1,460-$1,470- analyst

* GRAPHIC-Plat/palladium ratio: tmsnrt.rs/1QjSZAC (Updates prices)

By Asha Sistla

Oct 30 (Reuters) - Gold rose on Wednesday on expectations of an interest rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve, but bullion held a tight range as caution set in with investors awaiting clarity on the central bank’s future monetary policy.

Palladium hit an all-time high driven by short supplies of the auto-catalyst metal.

Spot gold was up 0.5% to $1,494.16 per ounce at 01:36 p.m. EDT (1736 GMT). U.S. gold futures settled 0.4% higher at $1,496.70 an ounce.

The U.S. central bank is set to release a statement following its two-day policy meeting, at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT). Investors expect the Fed to lower rates by a quarter of a percentage point for a third time this year.

“A 25-basis point cut is well expected. The main driver will be the tone of (Fed Chair) Jerome Powell. He could signal a more patient tone after cutting rates, a hawkish cut you’d say. That could open some weakness in gold in the near term,” said Ryan McKay, a commodity strategist at TD Securities.

On the trade front, the first phase of a U.S.-China trade agreement may not be ready to be signed in Chile next month, although that does not indicate that the accord is falling apart, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.

“There are still some landmines out there that could trigger additional safe-haven into gold and it’s not dead just yet, although a bit weaker in the near term,” McKay said.

Gold is considered a safe store of value during economic or political uncertainty.

On the technical front, “we would have a first bearish signal only below $1,480, while a rebound above $1,500 could open space for another recovery to $1,520,” ActivTrades’ chief analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa said in a note.

“As long as prices can remain above $1,460-$1,470, the main trend remains positive, despite the recent weakness.”

Palladium jumped nearly 2% to $1,815.78 per ounce, after hitting a record high of $1,824.50 in the session.

“We’ve already hit peak bearishness on the auto sales and palladium and the market was tight; if you’re expecting it to recover, it’s only going to get tighter. On the margin, if the industry as a whole is more optimistic, palladium and platinum will get an additional bid,” TD Securities’ McKay said.

Chiefly used in vehicle exhausts to reduce harmful emissions, platinum is favoured for diesel engines and palladium is preferred for petroleum.

Tightening emissions regulations are putting more palladium in each vehicle, supporting consumption even as weakening global economic growth hits vehicle sales.

Silver edged 0.3% higher to $17.85 an ounce, while platinum gained 0.3% to $922.93. (Reporting by Asha Sistla in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Richard Chang)

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