PRECIOUS-Gold retreats as trade optimism resurfaces, palladium soars

 (Updates prices)
    * U.S. private employers add fewest jobs in 6 months in Nov
    * Palladium hits record high of $1,873.50/oz
    * GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns:

    By Karthika Suresh Namboothiri
    Dec 4 (Reuters) - Gold shrugged off earlier gains to fall on
Wednesday, as a report suggesting progress on the U.S.-China
trade negotiations rekindled risk appetite, while palladium
notched up a fresh peak.
    Spot gold        dipped 0.2% to $1,473.84 per ounce by 1:54
p.m. EST (1854 GMT). Prices had hit $1,484 earlier in the
session, their highest level since Nov. 7. 
    U.S. gold futures        settled 0.3% lower at $1,480.20.
    The latest development on the trade front prompted gold to
erase gains, said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global
    Washington and Beijing are moving closer to agreeing on the
amount of tariffs to be rolled back in a phase-one trade deal, a
Bloomberg report said.             
    "That hit the tape when the U.S. was asleep, causing U.S.
(gold) futures to drop, because U.S. equity futures started to
    The report comes a day after U.S. President Donald Trump
said a trade agreement may be delayed until after the November
2020 U.S. elections, which prompted a sell-off in global
equities and pushed gold up more than 1%.            
    "It's been an interesting see-saw ... The market is looking
for reliable information concerning tariff talks, more than
anything else," said George Gero, managing director at RBC
Wealth Management. 
    "Gold traders have been buying dips and doing well selling
at the bigger rallies. This has kept gold range-bound for some
time between $1,480 and $1,500."
    Safe-haven bullion has benefited from the trade
uncertainties, propelled 15% higher so far this year. 
    Gold also found little support from weaker economic readings
from the United States, with data showing private employers
added the fewest jobs in six months in November, and in turn, a
weaker dollar.                    
    Elsewhere, platinum        fell 1.2% to $898.52 an ounce,
while palladium        rose 0.7% to $1,868.66. 
    Palladium, used mainly in catalytic converters in vehicles,
jumped to a record high of $1,873.50 in the day, extending gains
for a ninth straight session.
    The metal has jumped about 48% in 2019 on a sustained supply
squeeze, despite a weakening global auto sector.
    However, some analysts said the metal is bound for a
    "We continue to think that palladium price increases are not
justified by the fundamentals, and that prices will fall back,"
ABN Amro analyst Georgette Boele said in a note, adding she
expects prices to dip to $1,450 by end-2020.
    Elsewhere, silver        shed 1.8% to $16.85 an ounce.

 (Reporting by Karthika Suresh Namboothiri in Bengaluru
Editing by Matthew Lewis and Steve Orlofsky)