PRECIOUS-Gold stalls ahead of Fed policy statement, tariffs deadline

K. Sathya Narayanan

(Adds comments, updates prices)

* Markets eye FOMC statement later in the day

* Trade negotiators plan for a delay of December tariffs-WSJ

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: http://tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

Dec 11 (Reuters) - Gold was little changed on Wednesday, with market activity largely subdued ahead of the U.S. central bank's economic policy statement and a fast-approaching tariffs deadline, while palladium hovered close to previous session's record.

Spot gold was steady at $1,463.59 per ounce by 0345GMT. U.S. gold futures were also flat at $1,468.

"The market is in a holding pattern. Stocks, oil, currencies and gold are awaiting the events that are coming in the second half of the week," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA. The U.S. Federal Reserve will issue the statement of its December policy meeting later in the day. Although the central bank is expected to leave interest rates unchanged, investors are eager to hear its outlook for the economy, mainly hit by a protracted trade war between China and the United States. "The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will update the dot-plot, so that will be closely watched," Halley said. "If they provide a more dovish outlook, that would potentially weaken the dollar, which will be positive for gold." On the U.S.-China trade front, market participants maintained a cautious stance as U.S. President Donald Trump has to decide whether to impose tariffs on nearly $160 billion in Chinese consumer goods just weeks before Christmas. The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday said both sides' trade negotiators were planning for a delay of the December tariffs.

"Should both parties fail to reach positive consensus, gold prices will receive strength over lackluster risk appetites for the near term," Phillip Futures analyst Benjamin Lu said in a note.

Elsewhere, the auto-catalyst metal palladium was

unchanged at $1,897.26 an ounce, having surged past the key level of $1,900 an ounce for the first time on Tuesday. Speculative buying and a mine closure in major producer South Africa have supported palladium prices, which are expected to rise further in the longer term, a trader from Japan-based retailer Tokuriki Honten Co. said. Mines across South Africa were shutting down after a largest power blackout in more than a decade, with some major players forced to cut production. The news had also supported platinum prices, which rose as much as 3% in the last session the most since at least early

September. On Wednesday, the metal fell 0.4% to $918.41

per ounce.

Silver slipped 0.1% to $16.63 per ounce.

(Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)