PRECIOUS-Gold holds steady as U.S. data leaves dollar stable

    * Dollar remains in narrow range after U.S. data
    * Palladium inches up to highest price since 2001
    * GRAPHIC-2017 asset returns:

 (Updates prices; adds comment, second byline, NEW YORK
    By Marcy Nicholson and Jan Harvey
    NEW YORK/LONDON, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Gold held near an
earlier two-week high on Thursday after U.S. data on gross
domestic product, jobless claims and regional business activity
left traders' views on a stable economy unchanged and the dollar
broadly steady. 
    Spot gold        was at up 0.06 percent at $1,266.35 an
ounce by 2:32 p.m. EST (1932 GMT), rising for the fifth straight
session and hitting its highest since Dec. 6 at $1,268.26 in
earlier trade. U.S. gold futures         settled up 0.08 percent
at $1,270.60.
    Spot palladium        inched up and briefly touched the
highest level since February 2001 at $1,038.99 an ounce before
paring gains to be up 1.1 percent at $1,036.15 an ounce. It was
on track to finish the year up more than 50 percent on
expectations for a shift in demand from diesel to
gasoline-fueled cars, which use the metal in their catalytic
    Italopreziosi's Filippo Finocchi, the leading forecaster
from Reuters' January 2017 palladium price poll, told the
Reuters Global Gold Forum that growing gasoline and hybrid
vehicle sales should boost prices again next year.
    Leading global stock markets rose modestly in the wake of
solid U.S. economic growth data and as investors digested the
recent passage of a $1.5 trillion tax cut plan in Washington.
    "Gold has failed to break out above $1,270, suggesting
market participants may be cautious about taking big positions
as we approach the year-end," said  Mitsubishi analyst Jonathan
    U.S. Treasury yields fell on Thursday, after the GDP and
jobless data.      
    This followed their move on Wednesday to the highest in nine
months on optimism the U.S. tax overhaul would help boost growth
and as economic data improves. Rising bond yields tend to lift
the dollar and depress the appeal of non-yielding bullion.
    The U.S. House of Representatives took a step toward
averting a partial government shutdown at the end of this week,
approving rules to debate a bill that would fund federal
agencies through Jan. 19.             
    "This is a quiet market that's looking for a little more
direction and ... I think that maybe they're worried about the
budget," said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S.
Bank Wealth Management, adding this has provided some support
for gold. 
    Among other precious metals, silver        was down 0.5
percent at $16.09 an ounce, having climbed to a two-week peak of
$16.26 in the previous session.
    Platinum        was 0.4 percent lower at $914.80 an ounce,
after reaching its highest since Dec. 5 in the previous session.

 (Additional reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; editing by
Greg Mahlich and Tom Brown)