January 18, 2019 / 1:51 AM / 6 months ago

PRECIOUS-Palladium holds near record levels on supply woes; gold steady

BENGALURU, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Palladium held near $1,400 an ounce on Friday after surging to record levels in the previous session on tight supplies and robust demand, while gold stood firm amid a partial U.S. government shutdown.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot palladium was up 0.3 percent at $1,400.50 per ounce at 0116 GMT, having hit an all-time high of $1,434.50 on Thursday. The metal is on track to climb for a fourth week in its strongest weekly gain since the week ending Sept. 21. It has risen around 11 percent so far this month.

* The price of palladium, used mainly in emissions-reducing catalysts for vehicles, is up nearly 70 percent since marking a trough in mid-August. Prices for the metal overtook gold for the first time in 16 years early in December.

* Holdings in palladium exchange-traded funds (ETFs) tracked by Reuters have nearly halved from January last year as people took delivery and sold or gave the metal for lease due to insufficient supplies.

* Spot gold was steady at $1,291.43 per ounce, while U.S. gold futures were down 0.1 percent at $1,291.10 per ounce. Spot gold was set for its fifth straight weekly gain.

* Gold remains supported by a variety of factors, including a prolonged partial U.S. government shutdown, a possible pause in the U.S. Federal Reserve's rate hike cycle, and concerns surrounding Brexit, analysts said.

* Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans said on Thursday that it was a good time for the U.S. central bank to pause in its campaign of interest rate hikes given the uncertainty in the economic outlook.

* Asian stocks gained early on Friday, as hopes for a thaw in the U.S.-China trade conflict fed investor appetite for riskier assets.

* U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed lifting some or all tariffs imposed on Chinese imports and suggested offering a tariff rollback during trade discussions scheduled for Jan. 30, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the internal deliberations. But, his office denied the claim.

* The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits unexpectedly fell last week, pointing to sustained labour market strength that should continue to underpin the economy.

* Inflation data for the European Union showed price pressures receding further from the central bank's target, complicating the situation for the European Central Bank which currently expects to raise interest rates later this year.

* China's fourth-quarter economic growth, due to be reported on Monday, likely slowed to the weakest pace since the global financial crisis, a Reuters poll showed, as demand faltered at home and abroad. (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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