PRECIOUS-Gold rises to near 2-month high in thin holiday trade

 (Updates prices)
    * Gold to face first resistance at $1,512 -analyst
    * Platinum at three-month high
    * GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns:

    By Karthika Suresh Namboothiri
    Dec 26 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose to a near-two month high
on Thursday, holding firm above the key $1,500 level, as
investors braced for a robust equity rally to run out of steam,
while volumes remained low in holiday trade.
    Spot gold        rose 0.8% to $1,511.13 per ounce as of
01:51 p.m. ET (1851 GMT). Prices notched $1,512.30 an ounce,
their highest since Nov. 4 earlier. 
    U.S. gold futures         settled 0.7% higher at $1,514.40
per ounce.
    "$1,500 is a strong psychological up-point. Once we saw that
breakout, we are moving past that first point of resistance at
$1,512. This could be the break we were looking for as we run up
to $1,600," said Alex Turro, market strategist at RJO Futures.
    "Gold is going to be supported moving forward through
central bank buying, enhanced demand, strong technicals and
support in the market." 
    The metal has gained about 18% so far this year and is on
track for its best year since 2010, due mainly to the protracted
U.S.-China trade dispute and its impact on the global economy.
    Beijing said on Wednesday it is in close touch with
Washington on a trade deal signing ceremony, a day after U.S.
President Donald Trump said that he and Chinese President Xi
Jinping will have a ceremony to sign the recently struck trade
    Hopes of a breakthrough in the trade war, combined with
recent positive domestic data, have powered U.S. stock markets
to record highs in the past few weeks and set the S&P 500 on
course for its best year since 2013.     
    "As portfolio managers rebalance equity portfolios and take
profits off the table, they reinvest those funds into other
asset classes, and gold is a beneficiary of that," said David
Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.
    "The Fed leaving rates at an accommodative stance, along
with the liquidity offered by the repo rate" has also provided
support to bullion, he added.
    U.S. Federal Reserve officials voted unanimously to leave
interest rates unchanged earlier this month, and have signaled
the central bank would require a material change to outlook to
either raise or lower borrowing costs.            
    Gold is highly sensitive to rising interest rates, which
lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.
    Amongst other precious metals, silver        rose 0.7% to
$17.90 an ounce after hitting its highest since Nov. 5. 
    Platinum        gained 1.5% to $952.70, its highest since
Sept. 24. Palladium        climbed nearly 1% to $1,901.54 per

 (Reporting by Karthika Suresh Namboothiri in Bengaluru; Editing
by Steve Orlofsky and Andrea Ricci)