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PRECIOUS-Gold prices flat as dollar steadies, equities tick up
Published at 13/12/2018 at 08:22

* Palladium hits life high of $1,269.07/oz in early trade

* Spot gold neutral in $1,240-$1,253 range - technicals

(Updates prices)

By Eileen Soreng

BENGALURU, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Gold was little changed on Thursday as the dollar steadied and equities climbed on signs of easing trade tensions between the United States and China, while palladium rose to a record high, trading at a premium to the bullion.

Spot gold was steady at $1,245.55 per ounce at 0806 GMT, while U.S. gold futures were up 0.1 percent at $1,251.2 per ounce.

"Market sentiment is neutral today... We've got a little more positive sentiment than we anticipated from U.S.-China trade tensions, which is weighing on the topside," said Stephen Innes, APAC trading head at OANDA in Singapore.

"Dollar hasn't made much moves and that's the real signpost for gold as they are still highly correlated."

The dollar index , which measures the greenback against six major rivals, was down a tad at 96.958, after retreating from a near one-month high overnight.

Meanwhile, Asian shares advanced on signs of easing trade tensions between the world's top two economies, and expectations that China will step up efforts soon to support its cooling economy.

China appears to be easing its high-tech industrial development push, dubbed "Made in China 2025," which has long irked the United States, while it also made its first major U.S. soybean purchases in more than six months on Wednesday.

Investors seem more interested in equity at this point of time than in gold, said Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.

However, analysts see uncertainties around the Brexit deal and expectations of the U.S. Federal Reserve's dovish tone at its meeting next week, supporting the yellow metal.

"There is lacklustre movement right now," said Kunal Shah, head of research at Nirmal Bang Commodities in Mumbai, India.

"Gold is waiting for a trigger from the upcoming FOMC meeting... Market is expecting a more dovish signal from the Fed."

The Fed is widely expected to raise rates at its Dec. 18-19 meeting, but investors focus would be on how much further it might lift rates next year.

Spot gold looks neutral in a range of $1,240-$1,253 per ounce, and an escape could suggest a direction, said Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Among other precious metals, spot palladium was 0.4 percent higher at $1,266.13 per ounce, having touched a record high of $1,269.07 earlier in the session.

Palladium rose strongly on the news that China would be reducing tariffs on U.S. imported autos, raising hopes that the sector would be boosted by additional demand, analysts at ANZ said in a note.

Silver was up 0.1 percent at $14.74 per ounce, while platinum gained 0.5 percent to $802.20.

(Reporting by Eileen Soreng and K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Sunil Nair)

((eileen.soreng@thomsonreuters.com; Within U.S. +1 651 848 5832, Outside U.S. +91 80 6749 6131; Reuters Messaging: eileen.soreng.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))