PRECIOUS-Gold steady as markets crave trade details; palladium eyes $2,000/oz

 (Updates prices)
    * Asian shares rise to highest in over a year
    * Palladium scales record high of $1,998.43/oz
    * GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns:

    By Sumita Layek
    Dec 17 (Reuters) - Gold traded sideways on Tuesday, as a
lack of concrete details about an interim U.S.-China trade deal
kept investors from making firm bets, while palladium prices
were set to break above the key $2,000 per ounce level for the
first time.
    Palladium        was 0.5% higher at $1,987.59 an ounce by
0749 GMT, after hitting an all-time peak of $1,998.43.
    Spot gold        was little changed at $1,476.43 per ounce,
with U.S. gold futures         flat at $1,480.80.
    "The trade situation is improving... but the weaker dollar
is counter balancing that. So, we're seeing tight ranges for
gold prices with these two factors running in opposite
directions," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at
CMC Markets.
    The dollar index        was little changed after posting
losses in the previous two sessions, making gold cheaper for
holders of other currencies.       
    Investors are keen to know more about the preliminary trade
deal struck between United States and China last week.
    "There is a real risk that when it comes to the actual
(deal) document, we could see some market disappointment and
that of course would be supportive for gold," McCarthy added.
    The "Phase One" trade deal has been "absolutely completed",
a top White House adviser said on Monday. However, Chinese
officials have been more cautious, emphasizing that the trade
dispute has not been completely settled.             
    Gold, considered a safe investment in times of political and
economic uncertainty, has gained about 15% this year, mainly
driven by the 17-month-long tariff war and its impact on the
global economy.
    Capping bullion's advance, Asian shares rose to their
highest in more than a year on trade deal optimism.            
    Among other precious metals, palladium, used mainly in
catalytic converters in vehicles, has gained more than 57% so
far this year on a sustained supply crunch.
    "Supply concerns have kept the metal buoyant, and underlying
demand appears to be in good shape still on pull-backs," MKS
PAMP said in a note.
    "We look set for an imminent test above $2,000, but we feel
there will be some good supply above there from the spec
community," they added, referring to speculators.
    Silver        fell 0.2% to $17 per ounce, while platinum
       gained 0.3% to $932.32.

 (Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi
Aich, Uttaresh.V, Kirsten Donovan)