* SPDR Gold holdings rise 1.5 pct on Friday
* Spot gold may fall to $1,268- technicals
* Market awaits Plan B on Brexit from British PM May
* Asia shares inch up after Wall Street rally last week
* Palladium off record highs on profit taking (Adds comment, updates prices)
By Sethuraman N R
Jan 21 (Reuters) – Gold prices held steady on Monday as expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will pause its multi-year interest rate hike cycle were offset by improving risk appetite.
Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,282.80 per ounce by 0748 GMT, while U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,282.10 an ounce.
“Dovish signals (from the Fed) have kept dollar strength in check, helping gold. But on the other hand, we have seen them easing bearish sentiments in equity markets,” said Benjamin Lu, analyst at Phillip Futures, Singapore.
Less than two weeks ahead of the U.S. central bank’s first policy meeting of the new year, Federal Reserve officials have left little doubt that they want to stop raising interest rates – at least for a while.
Slower global growth, a stock meltdown last quarter, and a partial U.S. government shutdown that threatens consumer confidence and spending have many in the Fed worried.
“We have seen very positive conditions in U.S. equities and the dollar has also seen a series of positive trades. All these competing influences have capped the safe-haven appeal,” Lu said, adding that gold was facing strong technical resistance at $1,300 levels.
Gold has risen more than 10 percent since touching 1-1/2-year lows in mid-August, mainly due to tumultuous equity markets and a softer dollar.
Asian markets were steady on Monday, after Wall Street posted a fourth straight week of gains last week.
“On the longer run, we are still very positive on gold on a synchronised slowdown in global economic conditions and geopolitical uncertainties,” Lu said.
Chinese economy slowed at the end of last year, underlining the urgent need for more stimulus as Beijing wrestles with the United States over trade, a data showed on Monday
Investors are also waiting to hear British Prime Minister Theresa May’s ‘Plan B’ for Brexit, which is due to be presented to parliament later on Monday, after her deal was rejected by lawmakers last week.
“Front end volumes have firmed with the recent move lower in spot and participants are looking to play on the long-side amid a number of global risks,” MKS PAMP Group said in a note.
Reflecting investor appetite for gold, holdings of SPDR Gold , the largest gold based exchange traded fund, rose 1.5 percent on Friday to 809.76 tonnes.
Spot gold may break a support at $1,279 per ounce and fall to the next support at $1,268, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.
Meanwhile, spot palladium, which hit a record high of $1,434.50 last week, was up 1.2 percent at $1,394 on Monday.
Palladium has risen 10.5 percent so far this month on supply constraints and rising demand.
Spot silver was steady at $15.32 per ounce, while spot platinum fell 1.9 percent to $800. (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Pullin and Subhranshu Sahu)