December 23, 2019 / 12:01 PM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold rises on trade uncertainty in thin turnover

 (Updates prices)
    * Gold specs raise bullish positions in week to Dec. 17
    * Silver hits highest since Nov. 7
    * GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl 

    By K. Sathya Narayanan
    Dec 23 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose on Monday as lingering
uncertainties about the trade deal agreed by the United States
and China boosted the appeal of safe-haven bullion, while
volumes thinned ahead of the holiday season.
    The spot gold price        was 0.4% higher at $1,483.07 per
ounce as of 1341 GMT. Earlier, it hit $1,485.13, the highest
since Dec. 12. 
    U.S. gold futures         rose 0.4% to $1,486.80 per ounce.
    "We haven't heard anything concrete as far as the trade talk
is concerned between U.S. and China ... Nothing has been done
yet, just a lot of talks and no action really," said Afshin
Nabavi, senior vice president at precious metals trader MKS SA.
    U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday that Washington
and Beijing would "very shortly" sign their so-called Phase One
trade pact.             
    While the two largest economies say they have reached an
initial agreement, many questions remain.
    "The major focus is when and where and which terms will be
included in the trade agreement," said Jigar Trivedi, a
commodities analyst at Anand Rathi Shares & Stock Brokers in
Mumbai.
    A report that North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un held a
meeting of top military officials to discuss boosting the
country's military capability also supported gold.             
    Bullion is often used by investors as a hedge against
political and financial uncertainty. 
    Gold has gained more than 15% this year and is set for its
best year since 2010.
    Indicative of sentiment towards bullion, holdings of the
world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold
Trust      , rose 0.3% to 885.93 tonnes on Friday.          
    Speculators also increased their bullish positions on COMEX
gold and silver contracts in the week to Dec. 17, data showed on
Friday.        
    Elsewhere, palladium       , which has been boosted in
recent months by a supply deficit, rose 0.3% to $1,861.19 per
ounce after a sharp decline on Friday, when it erased more than
$100 in the session.
    "Palladium has been very positive for the past few months
and the market was overall long than short. The break below
$1,900 just triggered a lot of stop (loss selling)," MKS SA's
Nabavi said.
    Silver        rose 0.9% to $17.35 per ounce, having earlier
touched its highest since Nov. 7, while platinum        gained
1.1% to $918.65 per ounce. 

 (Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan and Sumita Layek in
Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter and David Clarke)
  
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