PRECIOUS-Gold holds steady as U.S. data leaves dollar stable

Kitco News

* Dollar remains in narrow range after U.S. data

* Palladium inches up to highest price since 2001

* GRAPHIC-2017 asset returns: (Updates prices; adds comment, second byline, NEW YORK dateline)

By Marcy Nicholson and Jan Harvey

NEW YORK/LONDON, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Gold held near an earlier two-week high on Thursday after U.S. data on gross domestic product, jobless claims and regional business activity left traders' views on a stable economy unchanged and the dollar broadly steady.

Spot gold was at up 0.06 percent at $1,266.35 an ounce by 2:32 p.m. EST (1932 GMT), rising for the fifth straight session and hitting its highest since Dec. 6 at $1,268.26 in earlier trade. U.S. gold futures settled up 0.08 percent at $1,270.60.

Spot palladium inched up and briefly touched the highest level since February 2001 at $1,038.99 an ounce before paring gains to be up 1.1 percent at $1,036.15 an ounce. It was on track to finish the year up more than 50 percent on expectations for a shift in demand from diesel to gasoline-fueled cars, which use the metal in their catalytic converters. Italopreziosi's Filippo Finocchi, the leading forecaster from Reuters' January 2017 palladium price poll, told the Reuters Global Gold Forum that growing gasoline and hybrid vehicle sales should boost prices again next year.

Leading global stock markets rose modestly in the wake of solid U.S. economic growth data and as investors digested the recent passage of a $1.5 trillion tax cut plan in Washington. "Gold has failed to break out above $1,270, suggesting market participants may be cautious about taking big positions as we approach the year-end," said Mitsubishi analyst Jonathan Butler.

U.S. Treasury yields fell on Thursday, after the GDP and jobless data. This followed their move on Wednesday to the highest in nine months on optimism the U.S. tax overhaul would help boost growth and as economic data improves. Rising bond yields tend to lift the dollar and depress the appeal of non-yielding bullion.

The U.S. House of Representatives took a step toward averting a partial government shutdown at the end of this week, approving rules to debate a bill that would fund federal agencies through Jan. 19. "This is a quiet market that's looking for a little more direction and ... I think that maybe they're worried about the budget," said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, adding this has provided some support for gold.

Among other precious metals, silver was down 0.5 percent at $16.09 an ounce, having climbed to a two-week peak of $16.26 in the previous session.

Platinum was 0.4 percent lower at $914.80 an ounce, after reaching its highest since Dec. 5 in the previous session.

(Additional reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Greg Mahlich and Tom Brown)

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