* Investors closely watching Sino-U.S. trade talks
* SPDR Gold holdings highest since end-July
* Palladium touches record high at $1,313.24/oz
* Platinum hits over 1-month high at $831.10/oz
By Swati Verma
Jan 7 (Reuters) - Gold rose on Monday, just below a more than six-month peak hit in the last session, as the dollar slid on reduced chances of further rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve, and as the United States and China resumed trade talks.
Palladium hit an all-time high as the market suffers from a sustained deficit due to high demand and a supply shortage. The metal, used mainly in emissions-reducing catalysts for vehicles, was trading at a premium to gold.
Spot gold was up 0.3 percent at $1,288.14 per ounce as of 1:41 p.m EST (1841 GMT), having reached $1,298.42 an ounce on Friday, its highest since June 15.
U.S. gold futures settled up 0.3 percent at $1,289.9 per ounce.
“The market is reconsidering its expectations for Fed rate hikes and as the expectations have been scaled back gold prices have been able to edge higher,” said Suki Cooper, precious metals analyst at Standard Chartered Bank.
The dollar slipped following dovish comments from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, making gold cheaper for holders of other currencies.
Powell on Friday said the U.S. central bank would be more sensitive to downside risks in the market, adding that it was “prepared to shift the stance of policy” if needed.
Gold tends to gain when expectations of interest rate hikes ease because lower rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion and weigh on the dollar, in which it is priced.
“As the trade tensions have eased we’ve seen the dollar weaken somewhat and in turn gold prices have been able to benefit,” Cooper said.
The United States and China are likely to reach a good settlement over immediate trade issues, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said on Monday.
“The main trend remains bullish (for gold). From a technical point of view, traders are now watching the two key levels of $1,277 and $1,300, which are new support and resistance levels respectively,” ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa said in a note.
Investor appetite for gold can be seen in the holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, which rose to 798.25 tonnes on Friday, the highest since July 31, 2018.
Palladium, meanwhile, slipped 0.3 percent to $1,297.49 an ounce after touching a record high of $1,313.24 earlier in the session.
“Industrial demand for palladium still remains robust and we continue to see a market that is undersupplied. But now we are also seeing an increase in investor appetite, which is applying an upward pressure on the market, which is already tight,” Cooper said.
Silver edged 0.1 percent lower to $15.68 per ounce, while platinum was little changed at $822.30, having touched a more than one-month high of $831.10 earlier in the session. (Reporting by Swati Verma and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler and Diane Craft)