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PRECIOUS-Gold rises to 3-month high, set for best year since 2010

Sumita Layek

(Updates prices, adds comments and details)

* Gold gains about 19%, silver up 17% for the year

* Palladium rises 51% - biggest precious metal gainer

* Gold specs raise bullish positions in week to Dec. 24

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

Dec 31 (Reuters) - Gold rose to its highest level in more than three months on Tuesday, capping its best year in nearly a decade, on weakening dollar and year-end buying in thin-volume trading.

and was last up 0.5% to $1,522.89 per ounce by 0405 GMT. U.S.

Bullion is set to post its best year since 2010, having gained nearly 19%, mainly driven by a tariff war between the world's two largest economies and quantitative easing by major central banks. "One of the main drivers behind gold's gain is the weakening in the dollar," said Margaret Yang Yan, a market analyst at CMC Markets, adding prices are also rising on bargain hunting in year end.

gold cheaper for holders of other currencies. "However, the upside is kind of limited because quantitative easing or rate cutting cycle has come to an end for now and we don't see a possibility of any rate cuts in 2020," Yan said. The U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates three times this year before agreeing to pause. Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding the non-yielding bullion.

On the trade front, a Phase 1 deal was likely to be signed next week, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on Monday. "With liquidity much reduced in Asia, there is some potential for gold to spike higher on low volume with some risk hedging added into the mix," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA in a note. "The next resistance is at $1,535 an ounce." Asian shares slipped as investors locked in gains.

Speculators raised their bullish positions in COMEX gold contracts in the week to Dec. 24.

ounce. Plagued by sustained supply deficit, it was the biggest precious metal gainer this year with a gain of over 51%, its best since 2017. Price of the metal, used mainly in catalytic converters in vehicles, rose to a all-time peak of $1,998.43 on Dec. 17.

register its best year since 2010, rising about 17%.

to gain about 23%, its best since 2009.

(Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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