Wires

PRECIOUS-Gold scales 1-1/2 month peak on sombre U.S. economic data

K. Sathya Narayanan

(Adds comment, updates prices,)

* Silver hits highest since Nov. 7

* Palladium rebounds from near 1-month low

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

Dec 24 (Reuters) - Gold rose to its highest in more than 1-1/2 months on Tuesday, as a dip in equity markets and weak U.S. data improved demand for bullion in subdued trading ahead of the holidays.

GMT, having earlier hit $1,492.79, its highest since Nov. 6.

Data on Monday showed new orders for key U.S.-made capital goods barely rose in November and shipments fell, suggesting business investment will probably remain a drag on economic growth in the fourth quarter. "There is a pause in the rally in riskier assets and that is why we are seeing gold and the dollar move higher," Vandana Bharti, assistant vice-president of commodity research at SMC Comtrade said, adding weak U.S. economic data added to bullion's safe-haven appeal. Asian shares edged lower, while U.S. stock futures darted in and out of losses on Tuesday, as the holiday lull tempered optimism that a U.S.-China trade deal will boost exports and corporate earnings. "Gold was in a range and trading with a downside bias because of the positive outcome in the China-U.S. trade deal, but it is now discounted in the market," Bharti said. Gold, an alternative investment during times of economic and political uncertainties, has risen about 16% so far this year due to U.S.-China trade tensions and dovish global central banks, with the Federal Reserve cutting rates three times in 2019. Investors are currently awaiting further information on the Phase One trade deal between the world's two biggest economies. "We are still not 100% clear if the 'phase one' deal will go through or not, it has not been signed yet," said Stephen Innes, a market strategist at AxiTrader. "We then pivot to 'phase two' that suggests you need some gold, because we don't know what the next phase is all about, how contentious a deal that is going to be." Even as Beijing and Washington have taken steps to defuse their dispute, they still diverge on a slew of issues, including anti-government protests in Hong Kong and the treatment of China's Muslim Uighur minority.

earlier hit its highest since Nov. 7 at $17.65.

ounce, having slipped to its lowest since Nov. 27 in the

$939.38.

(Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan and Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter)