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PRECIOUS-Gold firms as markets await more details on trade deal

Karthika Suresh Namboothiri

(Updates prices)

* Palladium eases; far from record high of $1,998.43/oz

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

Dec 19 (Reuters) - Gold prices held firm on Thursday as investors awaited further developments on U.S.-China trade, while political uncertainty in Washington failed to move markets across the board.

higher at $1,484.40 per ounce. "The market is on hold waiting for the next piece of impetus," said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures. "There is an acceptance by the market that this trade deal is officially signed and also that there isn't going to be any quick jump (from either side) ... Changes in that expectation will see changes in the market." China on Thursday announced a new list of import tariff exemptions for six chemical and oil products from the United States, days after the world's two largest economies announced an interim trade deal. The 17-month-long trade dispute has triggered a 15% rise in gold prices in the year, and fanned global recessionary fears. Gold is often used by investors as a hedge against political and economic uncertainties. "The safe-haven metal bulls have shown resilience recently, amid the keener risk appetite that has been prevalent in the market place the past few weeks - evidenced by U.S. stock indexes near record highs," said Kitco Metals senior analyst Jim Wyckoff in a note. Investors also kept a close eye on political proceedings in Washington, where the Democratic-led House of Representatives formally charged President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in a historic step that will inflame partisan tensions across a deeply divided America. However, the Republican-controlled Senate is widely expected not to convict Trump and remove him from office. If the U.S. Senate convicts Trump, "which would be unexpected, that throws next year's election into a very uncertain place," Ilya Spivak, a senior currency strategist at DailyFx, said, adding the resultant aversion toward riskier assets could benefit gold.

$1,934 an ounce, but was far from Tuesday's all-time peak of $1,998.43.

rose 0.6% to $17.10.

(Reporting by Karthika Suresh Namboothiri and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru Editing by Matthew Lewis)