PRECIOUS-Gold steady amid concerns over trade war, dollar caps gains

(Updates prices)

* Concerns persist over impact of Italy poll outcome on EU

* Silver net shorts at record high

* Platinum, palladium dip on lower demand from U.S.

LONDON, March 5 (Reuters) - Gold touched a near one-week high on Monday as investors opted for safe-haven assets on political uncertainty in Italy and fears of a potential escalation of a simmering global trade war but a stronger dollar kept gains in check. Gold is often seen as an alternative investment during times of geopolitical and financial uncertainty, benefiting along with other haven assets such as the Japanese yen and U.S. Treasuries while stocks tend to trend lower.

Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,323.25 per ounce


U.S. gold futures for April delivery rose 0.1

percent to $1,324.40 per ounce. "There are fears that a global trade war or protectionist measures will undermine global growth," said Societe Generale's head of metals research Robin Bhar. "People have wanted gold as a hedge against those looming uncertainties." U.S. President Donald Trump last week announced plans to levy hefty tariffs on aluminum and steel imports which were followed by threats of retaliation from the EU and Canada.

In Italy, voters delivered a hung parliament on Sunday and if early projections are confirmed, none of Italy's three main groups will be able to rule alone and there is little prospect of a return to mainstream, moderate government.

The dollar index gained 0.1 percent, having touched

its lowest in almost a week earlier in the session, putting a cap on gold's gains. Gold output from Australia, the world's second-largest producer, may rise to a record as a stream of new projects comes on line, Australian mining consultancy Surbiton Associates said on Sunday. The market was anticipating the release of non-farm payrolls on Friday which will help guide interest rate expectations.

In other precious metals, silver rose 0.2 percent to

$16.52 per ounce. Hedge funds and money managers increased their net short position in silver contracts to a record high in the week to Feb. 27, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data showed on Friday, while cutting net long positions in gold.

Platinum , used to reduce emissions in diesel cars,

inched up 0.4 percent to $966.20 per ounce, while palladium slipped 0.3 percent to $988.55. Putting pressure on platinum group metals (PGMs) was data that showed car sales in the United States were lower in February and the mayor of Rome said it would ban diesel cars by 2024, MKS SA senior precious metals dealer Alex Thorndike said.

(Additional reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru Editing by David Evans)