PRECIOUS-Gold hits over 3-wk high on dollar weakness; Palladium at 17-yr high

    * Speculators raise net longs in gold in the week to Dec. 19
    * Spot gold's close above 200 DMA on Friday, seen positive
    * SPDR Gold holdings rise 0.2 pct on Friday
    * Palladium hits highest since Feb. 2001
    * Silver hits 3-week high on Tuesday

 (Adds comment, updates prices)
    By Sethuraman N R
    Dec 26 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged up on Tuesday to more
than a three-week high on a weaker dollar, while palladium hit
its highest since Feb. 2001.
    Spot gold        was trading 0.3 percent higher at $1,278.04
per ounce at 0715 GMT, after hitting its highest level since
Dec. 1 at $1,279.19.
    U.S. gold futures         rose 0.3 percent to $1,282.50 an
    Anemic U.S. consumption data on Friday helped gold, while
the dollar remained under pressure in thin trading in Asia, said
Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.
    "With North Korea's Constitution Day Holiday on Wednesday,
there may also be an element of risk hedging in play for
regional markets at the moment," Halley said.
    Tension has been rising over North Korea's nuclear and
missile programmes, which it pursues in defiance of years of
U.N. Security Council resolutions, with bellicose rhetoric
coming from both Pyongyang and the White House.
    U.S. growth prospects dimmed on Friday as data showed
spending outpaced income in November and the Federal Reserve's
preferred inflation measure - the personal consumption
expenditures price index that excludes food and energy - rose by
just 0.1 percent in November.             
    The dollar index       , which tracks the greenback against
a basket of six major rivals, edged down 0.1 percent to 93.273. 
    Last week, gold posted its second consecutive weekly gain
and closed above its 200-day moving average, a key technical
    Adding a touch of bullishness to gold was the data from U.S.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on Friday, which
showed that hedge funds and money managers had increased their
net long stance in gold in the week to Dec. 19.             
    "Certain speculators moved earlier in the month from gold to
Bitcoin. With the heavy fall in Bitcoin before Christmas
holidays, people moved back to gold," said Amit Gupta, portfolio
management services head at Adroit Financial Services.
    Spot palladium        on Tuesday rose 0.8 percent to
$1,044.50 an ounce, a 17-year high. Prices touched their highest
level since February 2001 at $1,046.70 as strong demand from
autocatalyst makers reinforced the prospect of market shortages.
    Analysts expect that about 80 percent of global palladium
demand will come from autocatalysts for gasoline-powered cars,
which many now prefer over diesel-fuelled vehicles. 
    "The physical shortage is pushing prices high ... This
should take the metal (palladium) to new highs in 2018," a
Shanghai-based trader said.
    Spot silver        hit more than three-week highs on
Tuesday. It was up 0.5 percent to $16.45 per ounce.
    Spot platinum        rose 0.3 percent to $916.55 an ounce.

 (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by
Gopakumar Warrier and Vyas Mohan)