PRECIOUS-Gold prices rise on soft U.S. data and trade concerns

 (Updates prices, adds comment)
    * Trading volume low ahead of Christmas break
    * Silver also hits highest since Nov. 7
    * GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns:

    By Sumita Layek
    Dec 24 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose to their highest in over
a month and a half on Tuesday as weak U.S. economic data and
concerns about an interim Sino-U.S. trade deal lent support to
the safe-haven asset.
    The spot gold price        was up 0.4% at $1,490.80 per
ounce at 0825 GMT having earlier hit $1,491.78, its highest
since Nov. 7. U.S. gold futures         rose 0.4% to $1,494.00.
    Data on Monday showed new orders for key U.S.-made capital
goods barely rose in November and shipments fell, suggesting
business investment will probably remain a drag on economic
growth in the fourth quarter.             
    "The weaker U.S. economic data is starting to show up ...
there are still concerns that the current level of tariffs will
continue to weigh on the U.S. economy as we enter into 2020,"
said Stephen Innes, a market strategist at AxiTrader.
    Adding to growth concerns, Canada's economy unexpectedly
shrank by 0.1% in October, the first monthly decline since
February, partly because of a U.S. auto strike that hit
    Gold is considered an alternative investment during times of
political and financial uncertainty.    
    On the trade front, investors awaited further developments
on the Phase One deal between the United States and China, the
world's two biggest economies.
    "We are still not 100% clear if the 'phase one' deal will go
through or not, it has not been signed yet ... we then pivot to
'phase two' that suggests you need some gold, because we don't
know what the next phase is all about, how contentious of a deal
that is going to be," Innes said.
    Gold was on track for its best year since 2010 with a 16%
gain, mainly due to the 17-month tariff dispute that has roiled
global financial markets.
    Even as Beijing and Washington have taken steps to defuse
their dispute, they still diverge on a slew of issues, including
anti-government protests in Hong Kong and the treatment of
China's Muslim Uighur minority.             
    Asian shares and U.S. stock futures darted in and out of
losses on Tuesday as the holiday lull offset optimism about a
Sino-U.S. trade deal.            
    "In 2020, we may see equity markets starting to slip because
we have already seen multi-year highs and any correction in
equities will help gold," said Ajay Kedia, director at Kedia
Advisory in Mumbai.
    Elsewhere, silver        rose 0.9% to $17.59 per ounce,
having earlier hit its highest since Nov. 7 at $17.65.
    Palladium        fell 0.2% to $1,871.83 per ounce while
platinum        inched up 0.1% to $937.04.
    Trading is expected to be subdued ahead of the Christmas

 (Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu
Sahu, Aditya Soni and David Clarke)