(Updates prices) * Wall Street at record highs * Palladium hits all-time high of $1,991.38/oz * GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl By Karthika Suresh Namboothiri Dec 16 (Reuters) - Gold held steady on Monday as the dollar eased and investors sought clarity on the fine print of the "phase one" U.S.-China trade deal, offsetting strong gains in the equities markets. Spot gold was little changed at $1,476.19 per ounce by 01:35 p.m. ET (1835 GMT). Prices gained 1.1% last week as the world's two largest economies negotiated ahead of another potential round of tariffs. U.S. gold futures settled mostly unchanged at $1,480.50 per ounce. "This (trade deal) does not mean things get fundamentally better; it essentially means they're not going to get any deeper into a slowdown. ... There still are risks down the road," said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategies at TD Securities. "A combination of expectations of high (trade) deficit, lower interest rates and U.S. political risks emerging during election year, all point to investors wanting to at least have some gold in their portfolio." Washington and Beijing cooled their tariff dispute last week, reducing some U.S. tariffs in exchange for what U.S. officials said would be a big jump in Chinese purchases of American farm products and other goods. This bolstered risk sentiment, with Wall Street at record highs. However, the much-awaited initial deal failed to trigger any sharp sell off in gold. It shook off some initial pressure from early in the Asian session. "The markets lack conviction to push bullion lower as there still remain concerns about what this deal entails and how much this phase one agreement will alleviate the downward pressure on the global economy going into 2020," said FXTM market analyst Han Tan. "These overall concerns are still keeping gold prices relatively elevated." The 17-month long trade war has fanned concerns of a global economic slowdown, prompting major central banks to ease monetary policy. Palladium jumped 2.4% to $1,977.28 an ounce after hitting a fresh record high of $1,991.38. Platinum edged 0.1% higher to $928.93, while silver gained 0.7% to $17.05. While palladium's bull run has been underpinned by a structural deficit, platinum has been in a surplus, Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs said in a note. "However, substitution of palladium for platinum is unlikely to happen until extreme physical shortages develop which create problems in producing automobiles to force the automakers to make expensive investments to make the switch. Until then, palladium will likely continue to outperform platinum." (Reporting by Karthika Suresh Namboothiri and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; editing by Grant McCool and Richard Chang)
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