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PRECIOUS-Gold prices hold firm on trade, growth concerns

Harshith Aranya

* Speculators increase net longs in COMEX gold

* Gold up nearly 6% so far this month (Adds comments, details, updates prices)

Aug 12 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady in holiday-thin trade on Monday, holding near the key $1,500 pivot, as uncertainties around Sino-U.S. trade war and concerns of slowing global economic growth offered support.

Spot gold was mostly unchanged at $1,496.42 per ounce at 0422 GMT.

U.S. gold futures were flat at $1,508.10 an ounce.

Many markets in Asia, including Singapore and Japan, were closed for a holiday on Monday.

On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he was not ready to make a deal with China and even called the September round of trade talks into question.

"One risk to higher gold prices has been resolution in the U.S. -China trade talks, so the comment made by Trump on Friday clearly diminishes the likelihood of resolution anytime soon," said ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes.

However, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said that the U.S. was still planning to hold another round of trade talks with Chinese negotiators.

Earlier this month, Trump said he would impose a 10% tariff on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports on Sept. 1, prompting China to halt purchases of U.S. agricultural products.

Last week, the U.S. also accused China a currency manipulator after Beijing allowed the yuan to slip below 7 to the dollar.

The escalation in trade war between the world's biggest economics triggered a stellar rally in gold prices, which has risen nearly 6% so far this month.

"If we see continuation in the trade war, the outlook for gold remains positive; we do see prices stabilize around above $1,500. In the near-term, there is every likelihood that we will continue see gold prices push higher," Hynes said.

Worries about the damaging effects of trade war were underscored by a warning from Goldman Sachs of the rising risk of a recession, and that it no longer expects a trade deal before the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Further indicative of an economic slowdown, data last week showed the British economy unexpectedly shrank for the first time since 2012 in the second quarter, while German industrial production suffered its biggest annual decline in nine years.

Meanwhile, hedge funds and money managers raised their bullish stance in COMEX gold and trimmed net long positions in silver contracts in the week to Aug. 6, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.

Among other precious metals, silver edged 0.1% lower to $16.93 per ounce.

Platinum rose 0.3% to $861.29 and palladium gained 0.3% to $1,425.88 an ounce. (Reporting by Harshith Aranya and Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin and Uttaresh.V)