PRECIOUS-Gold slips off $1,800 pivot; investors seek direction from Fed

* Platinum hits an over nine-month low of $925.50/oz

* UBS lowers palladium price forecast to $2,000/oz

* Gold prices likely to remain choppy ahead of FOMC meet - analyst (Adds comment, updates prices)

By Arundhati Sarkar

Sept 15 (Reuters) - Gold retreated below the key $1,800 level on Wednesday, hit by a bout of technical selling after it failed to hold recent gains as investors looked past a subdued dollar and sought clarity on the U.S. Federal Reserve's tapering strategy.

Spot gold fell 0.7% to $1,791.54 per ounce by 12:29 p.m. EDT (1629 GMT), while U.S. gold futures eased 0.7% to $1,793.90.

But prices were still relatively range-bound, reflecting uncertainty over the path the Fed may adopt at its meeting next week after softer U.S. inflation data on Tuesday.

A stronger-than-expected N.Y. Fed's manufacturing report for September earlier in the day fell "into the camp of the monetary policy hawks, which put a little pressure on gold," said Jim Wyckoff, senior analyst at Kitco Metals.

He added that improved risk sentiment was weighing on bullion.

But there weren't any particular headlines to prompt gold's pullback and this was rather due to its "technical inability to trade up through the 200-day moving average on Tuesday," said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.

Right now, "any good news is bad news for gold," and if more positive economic data comes out, the Fed would be more willing to begin reducing asset purchases, and gold's likely to move sideways heading into the FOMC meeting, Meger added.

Bullion investors also largely overlooked a subdued dollar.

"However, risk to the downside for gold is also limited since the slowdown in inflation thereby reduces the pace with which tapering can be carried out," said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen.

Platinum hit a more than nine-month low of $925.50 per ounce and was last down 0.4% at $935.27.

Palladium rose 0.9% to $1,996.19, stabilizing after sliding to an over one-year low on Tuesday. A chip shortage driven slowdown in auto production could hurt demand, analysts at UBS said.

Silver shed 0.4% to $23.74 per ounce. (Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar and Arpan Varghese, additional reporting by Ashitha Shivaprasad; Editing by Aditya Soni and Shailesh Kuber)

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