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PRECIOUS-Gold climbs to near 2-month peak as markets await trade deal signing

Diptendu Lahiri

(Adds comments and updates prices)

* Silver hits highest since Nov. 5

* Platinum climbs to over 1-1/2-month high

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

Dec 26 (Reuters) - Gold prices climbed to their highest in nearly two months on Thursday, as lingering uncertainty around the signing of the "phase one" Sino-U.S. trade deal bolstered demand for safe-haven metal.

GMT. Prices hit their highest since Nov. 5 earlier in the

$1,509.20 per ounce. "The U.S.-China trade tensions are very intense. Though recent news suggest a deal will go through, but until and unless something is on the paper, uncertainty will persist and gold will be riding on that," said Bernard Sin, group head of trading at MKS. "At least for the next quarter, we expect to see gold hovering around $1,525." China's Commerce Ministry said on Thursday that Beijing and Washington were still in the process of completing necessary procedures while maintaining close communication to sign the deal. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday there would be a signing ceremony with the Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first phase of the agreement. The metal has gained about 17% so far this year and is on track for its best year since 2010, mainly due to the protracted tariff dispute and its impact on the global economy. Concerns over growth in the United States remained as data on Monday showed that new orders for key U.S.-made capital goods hardly rose in November and shipments fell, suggesting business investment will probably remain a drag on the economy in the fourth quarter. Economic data from the U.S. is keenly watched for cues on the central bank's future monetary trajectory. Gold is sensitive to rising interest rates, which lift its opportunity cost. "The catalyst for next year is the U.S.-China trade friction with many unsolved issues. Then there is Brexit by January-end and the U.S. election in November all these uncertainties could lead to a temporary spike in gold prices," said Margaret Yang Yan, a market analyst at CMC Markets. "Technically, gold prices have broken out above and trending upwards. It's flipping from a bearish to a bullish trend."

$17.93 per ounce, after having hit its highest since Nov. 5 earlier in the session at $18.01.

having touched its highest since Nov. 4 earlier in the session

$1,889.39 per ounce.

(Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Asha Sistla in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)