PRECIOUS-Gold heads for second weekly gain on growth concerns

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(Updates prices)

* Palladium set for third straight weekly gain

* Platinum sees best week since early January

* GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns:

By Arijit Bose

Feb 22 (Reuters) - Gold was steady on Friday but still ontrack for a second weekly gain as sluggish U.S. economic datastoked worries about a global slowdown and investors awaitedsignals on U.S.-China trade talks.

Spot gold XAU= was unchanged at $1,322.81 per ounce by1258 GMT but still up 0.2 percent on the week, having scaled a10-month peak to $1,346.73 on Wednesday.

U.S. gold futures GCcv1 were down 0.2 percent at $1,325.40per ounce.

"The market is expecting the dollar to weaken. We expectgrowth in the U.S. to slow," said Natixis analyst BernardDahdah.

The dollar index .DXY was little changed versus six majorcurrencies on Friday but set for its biggest weekly fall in amonth. The U.S. currency, which has been a refuge for investorsduring the U.S.-China trade spat, has come under pressure onsigns of a breakthrough in talks. USD/*:nL1N20G257

Minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's last meeting painted aless dovish picture than expected on future interest rateshikes, weighing on gold in the last two sessions. Higher ratesreduce investor interest in non-yielding bullion.

But data showing new orders for key U.S.-made capital goodsunexpectedly fell in December, revived some market expectationsthat the central bank would halt the 2019 rate hike cycle.

It added to jitters about a slowdown in Europe and China,which analysts said bolstered the appeal of gold, considered asafe haven in times of uncertainty.

"The main target (for gold) is still the technicallyimportant area between $1,350 and $1,360 above which would be aone-year high," said Ronan Manly, a precious metals analyst atBullionStar Singapore.

Investor attention has turned to U.S. and Chinese tradetalks, which have shown some positive signs.

But holdings of SPDR Gold TrustGLD , the world's largestgold-backed exchange-traded fund, dropped 0.6 percent to 789.51tonnes on Thursday.

Dahdah at Natixis said the slight pullback did not signal ashift by gold investors since the levels were still close tohighs recorded at the start of 2019.

Elsewhere, palladium XPD= gained 0.8 percent to $1,480.17per ounce, having topped the psychologically significant $1,500level for the first time on Feb. 20.

The autocatalyst metal was on track for a third straightweek of gains, up about 3.4 percent.

Platinum XPT= rose nearly 1 percent to $826.50, and wasset for its best week since early January. Silver XAG= was up0.2 percent to $15.85, poised to snap two weekly losses.

(Reporting by Arijit Bose and Karthika Suresh Namboothiri inBengaluruEditing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Edmund Blair) ((; Within U.S. +1 651 848 5832,Outside U.S. +91 8067495254; Reuters

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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