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PRECIOUS-Gold flat as rising equities counter safe haven demand

Brijesh Patel and K. Sathya Narayanan

* Shares gain after Trump's auto-tariff delay

* Trump to delay auto tariffs decision by up to 6 months

* U.S. retail sales, industrial output fall in April (Adds analyst comments, updates prices)

May 15 (Reuters) - Gold steadied on Wednesday as share markets rose but concerns about global economic growth and the U.S.-China trade fight kept the metal supported near a one-month peak.

Spot gold was steady at $1,296.64 per ounce as of 2:07 p.m. EDT (1807 GMT). U.S. gold futures settled up 0.1% at $1,297.80 an ounce.

"There are lot of irons in the fire from a geo-political standpoint. Iran is a part of it, but the main one is the U.S.-China trade talks, which doesn't seem to be going anywhere at this point," said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

Concerns that the trade dispute between two world's biggest economies could be protracted and impact the global economy have boosted bullion's appeal over the past couple of days.

The metal, often seen as an alternative investment during times of political and financial uncertainty, rose to its highest level since April 11 at $1,303.26 on Tuesday.

"There is no doubt that what is holding up gold prices is the China trade deal concerns ... but after Trump's announcement of a delay in auto tariffs, investors are caught between and don't know which way to go. That's why you are seeing flat activity (at the moment)," said an analyst based in New York.

Gold erased earlier gains as U.S. and European stock indexes turned positive Wednesday after news that U.S. President Donald Trump planned to delay tariffs on auto imports.

"Treasuries are still going higher which shows that there is safety buying going on," Haberkorn added.

Treasury yields fell, with the two-year yield at its lowest in 15 months as traders raised bets on a Federal Reserve rate cut after U.S. retail sales missed expectations.

U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell in April as households cut back on purchases of motor vehicles and a range of other goods. Another report showed declining output of cars and machinery led to a surprise fall in U.S. factory production for April.

China also reported surprisingly weaker growth in retail sales and industrial output for April on Wednesday.

"Major focus now is the global economy and concerns about the economy are keeping gold up and so market participants have their eyes peeled for any signs of weakness," the New York based analyst said.

Among other precious metals, silver was up 0.1% at $14.80 an ounce, while platinum fell 1.6% to $842.

Palladium rose 0.4% to $1,341.51 an ounce. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel and K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru Editing by Matthew Lewis and Tom Brown)