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PRECIOUS-Gold prices steady on mixed U.S.-China trade signals

 (Updates prices)
    * Trump says trade deal with China going "very well"
    * Palladium hits fresh record high of $1,874.50/oz
    * GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

    By Asha Sistla
    Dec 5 (Reuters) - Gold prices inched up on Thursday as
conflicting signals from Washington and Beijing prolonged
uncertainty about a trade deal, a day after positive comments on
the talks by U.S. President Donald Trump knocked bullion off its
one-month high.
    Gold rose to $1,484 on Wednesday, its highest since Nov. 7,
but settled lower after Trump said that trade talks with China
were going "very well".             
    That came a day after Trump dented hopes for a trade
resolution when he said an agreement might have to wait until
after the U.S. presidential election in November 2020. 
            
    Spot gold        was up 0.1% at $1,475.58 per ounce, as of
0811 GMT on Thursday, and U.S. gold futures         were up 0.1%
at $1,480.90 per ounce.
    "Trump mentioned he is happy to wait a year for the China
deal to happen and we are not sure whether the first agreement
has been inked yet and that's what everybody is looking for,"
said Brian Lan of Singapore dealer GoldSilver Central.
    "Gold has always had the safe-haven asset status and people
hold on to gold when they don't know what's going to happen ...
U.S. dollar has weakened a bit and that has also helped push
gold prices at this time."
    The dollar index        extended losses and was down 0.1%,
making gold cheaper for investors holding other currencies.
    Gains in bullion, however, were limited as stocks
strengthened after a Bloomberg report on Wednesday that the two
sides were close to a "phase one" deal, and Trump's positive
comments on trade.            
     A further 15% U.S. tariff on about $156 billion worth of
Chinese imports is set to take effect on Dec. 15. Washington and
Beijing have yet to ink a so-called "phase one" agreement
announced in October, which had raised hopes of a de-escalation.
    Gold has gained about 15% so far this year, which could be
its biggest annual gain since 2010, mainly bolstered by the
impact of the prolonged U.S.-China trade war on the global
economy.
    "With doubts emerging about a U.S.-China trade talk, we
expect investor demand for safe-haven assets, such as
gold-backed ETFs, to increase," ANZ analysts said in a note.
         
    In other precious metals, palladium        edged 0.1% higher
to $1,871.00 per ounce, after hitting a fresh peak of $1,874.50.
    "Tougher environmental regulations are also boosting
palladium demand ... As the average loading of palladium  in
autocatalysts increases, we expect to see an ongoing surge in
demand for palladium-rich autocatalysts," ANZ said.
    Silver        rose 0.4% to $16.89, while platinum        was
up 0.1% at $896.00 per ounce.

 (Reporting by Asha Sistla in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry
Jacob-Phillips and Muralikumar Anantharaman)
  
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