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PRECIOUS-Gold shines as U.S.-China trade spat stokes safe-haven buying

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* Risk aversion sends global shares to over two-week low
* GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns:
* Platinum hits 6-month low (Updates throughout, changes dateline from BENGALURU) By Zandi Shabalala LONDON, June 19 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged higher on Tuesday after China and the United States threatened to impose fresh tariffs on each other, boosting the precious metal's safe-haven appeal.


U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods and Beijing warned it would retaliate, in a rapid escalation of the trade conflict between the world's two biggest economies. The move raised concerns about the prospects for global growth amid a trade war and triggered a selloff in equities while lifting the Japanese yen and the dollar index. Gold prices can gain during times of financial and political uncertainty as the metal is seen as a safe place to park assets, alongside the yen. "Gold is up slightly despite a higher dollar and that suggests that there is some safe-haven demand going into gold prices on the back of the trade dispute," said Capital Economics commodities economist Simona Gambarini. Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,279.38 an ounce by 1042 GMT while U.S. gold futures for August delivery were 0.1 percent higher at $1,281.70 per ounce.


But rising interest rates in the United States this year limited scope for upside in the precious metal, Gambarini said.


Higher U.S. rates tend to boost the dollar and weigh on gold, in which it is priced. "We still think that the U.S. Fed tightening and a strong dollar will prevent the gold price from rallying much further. We don’t expect a fall but we don’t expect it to rally either," she said. The U.S. economy "appears to be in a pretty good place" that should let the Fed continue its steady programme of raising interest rates, another Fed official said on Monday. Meanwhile, in other precious metals, silver was down 0.2 percent at $16.36 an ounce, after earlier hitting the lowest since June 1 at $16.32. Hedge funds and money managers raised their net long positions in COMEX silver contracts to its strongest in 6-1/2 months, by 35,882 contracts to 40,177 contracts, data showed on Friday. Platinum fell 0.3 percent to $878.50 an ounce, having earlier touched its lowest since mid-December at $873. Palladium was down 0.8 percent at $981.60 an ounce, after marking its lowest since May 30 at $975.15 overnight. (Reporting by Karen Rodrigues and Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Edmund Blair)

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