PRECIOUS-Gold jumps to near 7-year high as Mideast tensions spur safe-haven appetite


Jan 6 (Reuters) - Gold soared to its highest in nearly seven years on Monday, as intensifying tensions in the Middle East drove investors towards the safe-haven metal, while palladium surpassed $2,000-level to hit a record high.


* Spot gold rose 1.4% to $1,573.14 per ounce by 0124 GMT. It rallied as much as 1.8% and touched its highest since April 10, 2013 at $1,579.55 earlier in the session. U.S. gold

futures gained 1.6% to $1,577.80.* Palladium hit an all-time peak of $2,011.48 an

ounce and was last up 1% at $2,006.32.

* Iraq on Sunday called for U.S. and other foreign troops to leave amid a growing backlash against the U.S. killing of a top Iranian military commander that has heightened fears of a wider Middle East conflict.

* U.S. President Donald Trump threatened sanctions against Baghdad on Sunday for the move, and said if troops did leave, Baghdad would have to pay Washington for the cost of the air base there.

* Iran announced on Sunday it would abandon limitations on enriching uranium, taking a further step back from commitments to a 2015 nuclear deal with six major powers.

* Bullion is considered a safe asset during times of financial and geopolitical uncertainty.

* Further supporting bullion, Asian shares headed lower on account of tensions in the Mideast.

* The U.S. Federal Reserve acknowledged the current rate stance to be appropriate in their final policy meeting of 2019. Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

* India's gold imports in 2019 fell 12% from a year ago to the lowest level in three years, as retail buying faltered in the second half after local prices rallied to a record high, a government source said on Friday.

* Physical gold buying was subdued in major Asian hubs last week as higher prices dampened demand for the metal ahead of the Chinese New Year.

* Elsewhere, silver gained 2% to $18.39 per ounce,

while platinum rose 0.6% to $985.87.


0500 India IHS Markit Svcs PMI Dec0850 France Markit Serv, Comp PMIs Dec0855 Germany Markit Services PMI Dec0855 Germany Markit Comp Final PMI Dec0900 EU Markit Serv, Comp Final PMIs Dec0930 UK Reserve Assets Total Dec1445 US Markit Serv, Comp Final PMIs Dec

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