PRECIOUS-Gold steadies; palladium retreats after surge toward $2,000/oz

 (Updates prices)
    * Palladium hits record high of $1,998.43/oz
    * U.S. manufacturing production rose 1.1% in Nov
    * GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns:

    By Karthika Suresh Namboothiri
    Dec 17 (Reuters) - Gold steadied on Tuesday as robust U.S.
manufacturing data lifted risk appetite and offset lingering
doubts on U.S.-China trade, while scarce palladium retreated
after its record run toward the $2,000 an ounce level.
    Spot gold        was little changed at $1,476.23 per ounce
by 01:32 p.m. ET (1832 GMT). U.S. gold futures         settled
mostly unchanged at $1,480.60.
    U.S. manufacturing output rebounded more than expected in
November, the U.S. central bank said, keeping Wall Street near
record levels.                         
    "The competition for gold today is equities ... but there is
danger out there in the way central banks are behaving; gold has
to reflect that. We've created an environment where we require
central banks to move the economy forward," said Rob Lutts,
chief investment officer at Cabot Wealth Management.
    While the United States and China claimed to have reached an
initial trade agreement, many questions remain unanswered.
    The preliminary deal reached last week will double U.S.
exports to China, White House adviser Larry Kudlow said on
Monday. Washington will also reduce some tariffs on Chinese
    U.S. officials have touted a deal, but Chinese officials
have been more cautious, emphasizing the dispute has not been
completely settled.
    "From a technical standpoint, gold is in a bull market. ...
Trade deficits and negative interest rates across the globe have
been good for gold," said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S.
Global Investors.
    Elsewhere, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, emboldened
by election victory, put the risk of a hard Brexit back on the
table, saying he would make extending the transition period
beyond 2020 illegal. 
    Gold is generally used by investors as a place to park
assets during economic or political uncertainty.
    Spot palladium        shed 1.7% to $1,944.60 per ounce,
retreating from an all-time high of $1,998.43 earlier in the
    The metal, used to make catalytic converters for cars, could
see a surge in demand owing to stringent anti-carbon emissions
    "Supply is tight and when you're adding the speculation
about a potential pick-up in demand due to recovery in the
global economy, you have a perfect storm of bullish news
continuing to keep palladium supported," Saxo Bank analyst Ole
Hansen said.
    Last week's mine shutdowns in South Africa added fuel to
palladium's rally.             
    "It's times like these that create the opportunities to buy
on pull backs," Matousek said.    
    Platinum        eased 0.3% to $926.73 an ounce and silver
       was down 0.1% at $17.01.

 (Reporting by Karthika Suresh Namboothiri and Eileen Soreng in
Bengaluru; Editing by Sandra Maler and Richard Chang)