PRECIOUS-Gold dips 1% as dollar steadies, platinum eases off 6-year peak

* Platinum set to reach $1,300/oz by end of 2021, Citi says

* Palladium retreats from three-week high (Recasts, adds analyst comments, updates prices)

Feb 11 (Reuters) - Gold fell 1% on Thursday, as the dollar halted its slide, while platinum also eased in choppy trading after rallying to an over six-year high with analysts expecting further upside driven by higher demand from the automobile sector.

Spot gold fell 0.9% to $1,826.59 per ounce by 1:16 p.m. (1816 GMT). U.S. gold futures fell 1% to $1,824.60.

Making metals more expensive for those holding other currencies, the dollar steadied off a two-week low.

“Gold’s inability to trade back over $1,850 has triggered profit-taking as the sharp USD decline has eased,” said Tai Wong, head of base and precious metals derivatives trading at BMO.

“Investor interest seems to have shifted to platinum which has enjoyed a $150 rally over the past week though we are seeing profit-taking at current levels,” he added.

Platinum fell 0.4%, to $1,236.50 per ounce, having jumped as much as 2.2% to its highest level since January 2015 at $1,268.88.

Palladium fell 0.5% to $2,344.47.

Platinum’s rally was driven by a relatively tight market “and certainly the investment demand, which is reflected in strong exchange traded fund (ETF) inflows among others,” said Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann.

Both platinum and palladium are used by automakers in catalytic converters to clean car exhaust fumes.

Platinum may see a third consecutive annual deficit in 2021, specialist materials firm Johnson Matthey said in a report on Wednesday.

“The market has been looking beyond the pandemic - to a recovery in the auto sector, which will eventually happen,” said StoneX analyst Rhona O’Connell.

It will draw support from potential demand for fuel cells, O’Connell said.

Citi Research analysts expect prices to rise to $1,300 an ounce by the end of the year.

Elsewhere, spot silver edged 0.3% lower to $26.91 per ounce.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were just shy of record highs.

Reporting by Eileen Soreng, Asha Sistla Additional reporting by Nakul Iyer in Bengaluru Editing by Paul Simao and Diane Craft