September 3, 2018 / 4:05 AM / 8 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold down as rising trade tensions unnerve investors

* SPDR Gold holdings fell 0.4 pct on Friday

* Speculators trim net shorts in COMEX gold

* Palladium off 10-week highs hit on Friday (Recasts, adds quote)

By Sethuraman N R

BENGALURU, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Gold fell on Monday as the dollar remained firm on worries over intensifying Sino-U.S. trade tensions, especially after an impasse in trade talks between the United States and Canada.

Spot gold was down 0.2 percent to $1,198.43 an ounce at 0708 GMT, after hitting an intra-day low of $1,195.36.

U.S. gold futures fell 0.2 percent to $1,204.90 an ounce.

U.S. President Donald Trump has told his aides he is ready to impose tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of imports from China as soon as a public comment period on the plan ends later this week on Thursday.

“If the (new U.S.) tariffs are imposed this week, then gold might go down further to around $1,180 levels,” said Ji Ming, chief analyst at Shandong Gold Group.

“But, that is a good range to get in as a lot of physical investors are interested in buying at these levels.”

Trump said on Saturday there was no need to keep Canada in the North American Free Trade Agreement and warned Congress that he would terminate the trilateral trade pact altogether.

Gold prices have fallen about 8 percent so far this year amid rising U.S. interest rates, international trade disputes and the Turkish currency crisis, with investors parking their money in the U.S. dollar.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, was up 0.1 percent at 95.188.

There was some indication that the bearish sentiment in the market has started to shift slightly as there was a reduction in net short positions in the COMEX gold contracts in the week to Aug. 28, a first time in more than a month.

“There is a slight reduction in open interest in the week to (last) Thursday and this suggests a further reduction in short positioning, and could help maintain some price support in gold,” said Nicholas Frappell, general manager at Australia-based ABC Bullion.

“But the dollar’s firmness could be frustrating gold’s ability to rally.”

Major U.S. economic data due this week, such as a manufacturing survey on Tuesday and an employment report on Friday, could influence gold’s moves as investors are looking for clues on the pace of U.S. interest rate hikes.

Meanwhile, liquidations continued in SPDR Gold, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund. Holdings have fallen over 13 percent since a peak in late April.

Spot silver fell 0.2 percent to $14.47 an ounce, after earlier falling to its lowest in more than two weeks at $14.37.

Platinum rose 0.5 percent to $786.60 an ounce, while palladium was down 0.3 percent to $978.50, after hitting a 10-week high on Friday at $984.97. (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in BENGALURU; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Tom Hogue)

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