LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - Gold prices steadied on Monday
after hitting their highest in five weeks as the market weighed
an easing of global trade tensions against support from tempered
expectations of U.S. interest rate increases.
    Spot gold        was mostly flat at $1,346,20 per ounce by
1030 GMT, after hitting its loftiest since Feb. 19 at $1,350.76.
    U.S. gold futures         for April delivery shed 0.3
percent to $1,346.30 per ounce.
    The United States and South Korea agreed to revise a trade
pact criticised by U.S. President Donald Trump, Seoul said, with
U.S. automakers winning improved market access and Korean
steelmakers hit with quotas but avoiding hefty tariffs.
    The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, reported that the United
States and China had started negotiating to improve U.S. access
to Chinese markets.             
    Analysts said gold continued to be supported by last week's
statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve which forecast at least
two more hikes for 2018. Many had expected three more increases.
    "There is no groundbreaking news on the trade war front and
gold is taking a bit of a pause," said ETF Securities
commodities strategist Nitesh Shah, adding that the two main
drivers in gold were dampened interest rate expectations and
global trade disagreements.
    "There is a bit of wait and see before the Trump
administration puts out any details on what's included in the
list of tariffs," Shah said. 
    Gold is sought as a store of value in times of political and
financial uncertainty.
    The dollar index       , which measures the greenback
against six major currencies, was down 0.2 percent at its lowest
since Feb. 20.
    "Trump and China seem to be narrowing the list of tariffs
and it might not be as disastrous as originally thought," a
Singapore-based trader said. 
    Meanwhile, investors continued to monitor other developments
such as Trump's appointment of John Bolton as national security
adviser and fresh tensions between Saudi Arabia and Yemen's
Houthi militia.             
    The appointment of Bolton, who has previously advocated
using military force against North Korea and Iran, last week
provoked strong reactions worldwide.             
    Speculators cut their net long positions in gold in the week
to March 20 by 23,822 contracts to 121,838 contracts, U.S.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.
    Among other precious metals, silver        climbed 0.4
percent to $16.59 per ounce; platinum        rose 0.1 percent to
$948.24 per ounce.
    Palladium        gained 0.6 percent to $982.50 per ounce.
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