* Investors await Jackson Hole speeches by Yellen, Draghi
* Dollar eases after Trump threatens government shutdown
* Palladium extends losses below 16-1/2-year high
(Updates prices; adds comment, byline, NEW YORK dateline) NEW YORK/JOHANNESBURG, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged up on Wednesday, drawing support from political uncertainty in the United States and the weak dollar before a major central banking conference there this week.
Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,289.27 an ounce by
1:43 p.m. EDT (1743 GMT), hovering below last week's
nine-month-high at $1,300.80. U.S. gold futures settled
up 0.3 percent at $1,294.70. "Gold's kind of hanging in there before this Jackson Hole meeting. It is in a wait-and-see mode but we should have a better idea of direction by the end of this week," Fawad Razaqzada, a technical analyst at FOREX.com, said. "There can be an argument made for a bearish view on gold at this stage. If the dollar were to come back due to short covering and given the rally in U.S. stocks we saw yesterday, the (dollar) buck-denominated and safe-haven metal could fall out of favor."
The U.S. dollar index fell in a generally risk-averse
market after U.S. President Donald Trump's threat of a government shutdown and comments about the possible termination of a North American trade agreement. "The price of gold appears stuck in the mud, looking for any bit of news that can get the wheels spinning again," said Walter Pehowich, executive vice president of investment services at Dillon Gage Metals. "Helping a little is a weaker dollar and softer Treasury yields." Markets are focused on a meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, starting Thursday. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi are set to deliver speeches on Friday, on the outlook for monetary policy and interest rates. Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced. "Most of the people are now looking for hints from the Jackson Hole meeting between the central bankers," Mark To, head of research at Hong Kong's Wing Fung Financial Group, said. "The most important thing is economic fundamentals ... Central banks are going to have tightening measures in monetary policies to have normalization," To said. Gold was also buoyed by new U.S. North Korea-related sanctions, targeting Chinese and Russian firms and individuals for supporting Pyongyang's weapons programs.
Silver rose 0.3 percent to $17.02 an ounce, while platinum was up 0.2 percent to $976.25. Palladium lost 0.05 percent to $932, extending losses
below Monday's 16-1/2-year high at $940.
(Additional reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Jane Merriman and James Dalgleish)