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PRECIOUS-Gold slides, palladium hits highest since 2001

* Investors watching U.S. military drills with South Korea

* Fundamentals do not justify palladium at 16-year highs

(Recasts, adds comment, changes dateline from Bengaluru) LONDON, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Gold prices fell on Tuesday, under pressure from a stronger dollar ahead of an annual meeting of central bankers this week, while speculative buying pushed palladium to its highest since February 2001.

Spot gold was down 0.4 percent at $1,285.21 an ounce

at 0925 GMT. That compares with last week's peak at $1,300.8 its

highest since early November. U.S. gold futures slid 0.5

percent to $1,290.60 an ounce. Investors are waiting for speeches from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen at Jackson Hole Wyoming, for clues to the direction of interest and currency rates. A rising U.S. currency makes dollar-denominated commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies, which could subdue demand. "Draghi could take the opportunity to downplay the idea of monetary tightening in the euro zone, which would have a dampening effect on the euro and lift the dollar," said Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke. "From the Fed's perspective, we think they are not too concerned about weaker than expected inflation readings...It's pretty clear the Fed needs to raise rates." The Federal Reserve next meets on Sept. 19-20. Tensions between North Korea and the United States, which began long planned joint military drills with South Korea on Monday, are also in focus. North Korea said the drills were a step towards nuclear conflict. "North Korea remains one of the largest geopolitical risks...It might not take much to light the fuse," a fund manager said, adding that he could see gold push through and sustain levels above $1,300. On the technical front, trendline support comes in at $1,274, which is also near the 21-day moving average. Resistance is at $1,300, followed by $1,325, the 100-month moving average.

Silver fell 0.1 percent to $16.95 an ounce, and platinum slipped 0.8 percent to $970.00. Palladium was down 0.4 percent at $935.00 an ounce,

after earlier touching $940. "Palladium has been pushed up by speculative funds, there is nothing in the fundamentals to justify these levels," a precious metals trader said, adding that a slowdown in U.S. auto sales over coming months would spike the bubble. Both platinum and palladium are used to make autocatalyts. But platinum is predominantly used in diesel engines and palladium in gasoline engines, which dominate the U.S. market. U.S. light vehicle and passenger car sales in July fell 7 and 13.8 percent respectively from a year earlier.

(Additional reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Thomas)