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PRECIOUS-Gold steadies as dollar dips, traders await trade deal fineprint

 (Updates prices)
    * Date of phase 1 deal signing yet to be decided -
Lighthizer
    * Dollar index down 0.2% against rival currencies
    * Gold specs cut bullish positions in week to Dec. 10
    * GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

    By Sumita Layek
    Dec 16 (Reuters) - Gold steadied on Monday as the dollar
weakened and investors sought more clarity on the "phase one"
trade deal between the United States and China.
    Spot gold        was little changed at $1,475.50 per ounce
by 0821 GMT after prices came under some early pressure in the
Asian session on initial optimism over the trade deal. U.S. gold
futures         fell 0.1% to $1,480.10. 
    Despite some signs of caution, equities remained in positive
territory, limiting bullion's advance, after the world's top two
economies announced the "phase one" agreement and suspended some
tariffs on each other's goods that were due to go into effect on
Sunday.                                      
    "We still don't know what is in the deal ... most of the
traders had already discounted this news in the last couple of
weeks, as it has been in the market that the phase 1 deal will
happen," said Hareesh V, head of commodity research at Geojit
Financial Services.
    "Also, the dollar is slightly negative, so these are the
reasons we haven't seen a drastic sell-off in gold."
    The dollar        fell 0.2% against a basket of rivals,
making gold cheaper for holders of other currencies.        
    U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Sunday said
U.S. exports to China will nearly double over the next two
years, although officials are yet to decide a date to sign the
agreement.             
    "The phase one deal fell short of market expectations and is
probably not enough to fully restore business confidence or
generate a meaningful recovery in exports or investment,"
AxiTrader market strategist Stephen Innes said in a note.
    "Traders have now turned focus to the long and arduous road
to a phase two deal. So gold could do well on escalating trade
tensions."
    Gold has risen 15% this year on the backdrop of the
months-long tariff war and its impact on the global economy.    
  
    "Gold prices are not going to slide as global growth is not
super positive, there are still some risks," said Phillip
Futures analyst Benjamin Lu, adding prices will range between
$1,400-$1,450 an ounce in the short term.
    Data from the U.S. on Friday showed retail sales increased
less than expected in November.             
    Speculators slashed their bullish positions in COMEX gold
contracts in the week to Dec. 10.        
    Elsewhere, palladium        rose 1% to $1,949.49 an ounce.
The autocatalyst metal climbed to a record high of $1,979.95 on
Friday driven by supply concerns.
    Silver        gained 0.4% to $17 per ounce, while platinum
       rose 0.4% to $931.47.

 (Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi
Aich, Kirsten Donovan)
  
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