PRECIOUS-Gold gains in pre-holiday trade on doubts over China-U.S. deal

Sumita Layek

(Updates prices, adds comment)

* Gold specs raise bullish positions in week to Dec. 17

* SPDR Gold holdings rose 0.3% on Friday

* Silver hits highest since Nov. 7

Dec 23 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose to more than a one-week peak on Monday in low-volume trading ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays, as the dollar eased slightly and uncertainties over the Sino-U.S. interim trade deal lingered.

GMT. Prices had earlier risen to their highest since Dec. 12.

"There are some cosmetic improvements (in trade), but there is no comprehensive deal. Secondly, everyone knows that the Federal Reserve is not going to raise interest rates any time soon, that makes gold really affordable," said John Sharma, an economist at National Australia Bank. Gold, considered a safe investment in times of political and economic uncertainty, is set to register its best year since 2010. Bullion was supported by key central banks cutting interest rates on the backdrop of the 17-month long tariff war and its impact on economy. The dollar eased 0.1% against a basket of rivals, making gold cheaper for holders of other currencies. "A subdued dollar, thin volumes because of Christmas holidays and uncertainty related to phase 1 trade deal, are supporting gold prices," said Jigar Trivedi, a commodities analyst at Mumbai-based Anand Rathi Shares & Stock Brokers. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday Washington and Beijing would "very shortly" sign their so-called phase one trade pact, but markets are waiting for more details about the deal they announced earlier this month. "Trump and trade representatives from U.S. and China have very frequently sent the same messages to the market, because of that people have ignored the weekend news. The major focus is when and where and which terms will be included in the trade agreement," Trivedi added. Traders were also concerned after China's top lawmaking body on Saturday criticized the defense bill that Washington passed last week as "interference." Indicative of sentiment towards bullion, holdings of the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold

Speculators also increased their bullish positions on COMEX gold and silver contracts in the week to Dec. 17, data showed on Friday.

ounce. The metal declined as much as 5% on Friday as investors booked profits after it hit record highs.

1.1% to $918.59.

(Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Louise Heavens)