Dec 31 (Reuters) - Gold prices were on course for their first annual fall in three years on Monday, having largely been outgunned by the U.S. dollar as a refuge from global geopolitical and trade tensions, while palladium notched up a third year of gains propelled by robust investor demand coupled with a sustained deficit.
Spot gold traded at $1,279.41 per ounce late on Monday, on track to end 2018 down nearly 1.8 percent, while the most-active gold futures contract settled 2018 down 4.2 percent at $1,281.30 an ounce.
In contrast, spot palladium is set to gain nearly 19 percent this year, as a global deficit pushed prices of the autocatalyst metal above those of bullion in brief spurts for the first time in 16 years, out-performing other major precious metals.
U.S. palladium futures ended 2018 up 18.3 percent at $1,197.20 an ounce, its third straight year of gains.
Meanwhile, sister metal platinum, was expected to finish the year down 14 percent.
Platinum, more heavily used in the diesel vehicles that have fallen out of favour since the Volkswagen emissions-rigging scandal broke in 2015, fell below palladium for the fist time last year.
Tracking gold’s trajectory was spot silver, set to fall 9 percent in 2018.
COMEX silver futures were down 12 percent at $15.54 an ounce in 2018, the biggest yearly decline since 2014. (Reporting by Swati Verma in Bengaluru Editing by Alistair Bell)