PRECIOUS-Gold near 3-wk lows as firmer dollar dents safe-haven appeal

* Spot gold may fall to $1,268 - technicals

* Dollar stands near 2-week highs

* Palladium below record highs touched last week (Updates prices)

Jan 22 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady on Tuesday, hovering near a three-week low touched in the previous session, as a strong dollar limited gains for the safe-metal, which was drawing support from mounting concerns of a global economic slowdown.

Spot gold was mostly unchanged at $1,279.68 per ounce by 0733 GMT, after touching its lowest since Dec. 28 at $1,276.31 on Monday. U.S. gold futures fell 0.3 percent to $1,279.40 per ounce.

The dollar index, which measures its strength against a group of six major currencies, hit a 2-week high on Tuesday.

“Gold has become a victim of a stronger greenback in the short term. A weaker euro and concerns around growth in Europe have given a leg up to the dollar, pushing gold prices down below key level of $1,280,” said Kyle Rodda, market analyst with IG Markets.

“We haven’t seen much of data coming out of U.S. recently due to the government shutdown. If we see more weaker data that could cause bond yields to fall and support gold. Also, technically, we need to see gold push above the challenge of $1,300 level.”

The dollar’s rise weighed on gold, which has climbed more than 10 percent since mid-August, largely because of equity market turmoil and a weak dollar.

A weaker Chinese economic data also supported the U.S. dollar.

China’s economy cooled in the fourth quarter under pressure from faltering domestic demand and bruising U.S. tariffs, dragging 2018 growth to the lowest level in nearly three decades, data showed on Monday.

Asian shares fell on Tuesday on pessimism about world growth after the International Monetary Fund trimmed its global growth forecasts.

However, this did not influence gold prices much on Tuesday.

“It seems that several factors boosting gold earlier in January now seem to be having no effect, namely, the far more dovish Fed statements and clearer signs of slowing global macro growth,” INTL FCstone analyst said in a note.

“Instead, it seems that gold is being undermined by a slightly stronger dollar along with a modest uptick in U.S. 10-year yields.”

Fed officials have left little doubt that they want to stop raising interest rates, at least for a while.

Higher interest rates tend to reduce appetite for non-yielding gold.

Spot gold may fall to $1,268, as it has broken a support at $1,279 per ounce, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Meanwhile, spot palladium, which hit a record high of $1,434.50 last week driven by a sustained deficit and rising demand, stood firm at $1,363.60 an ounce.

Silver rose 0.1 percent to $15.23 an ounce while platinum was up 0.2 percent at $792. (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph Radford and Shreejay Sinha)