PRECIOUS-Platinum, palladium sink as S. African strike nears end
* Palladium early tumble sets tone for day's heavy losses
* Traders say long PGM, short gold trade could unwind
* Iraq turmoil, oil rallies help boost gold
* Coming up: US producer prices Friday (Adds volume, detailed price actions, updates market activities)
By Frank Tang and Clara Denina
NEW YORK/LONDON, June 12 (Reuters) - Palladium posted its biggest daily losses in almost a year on Thursday after South African producers struck a deal with the union to end a crippling five-month strike, and violent conflict in Iraq burnished gold's safe haven status.
Taking a step closer to resuming operations after the longest strike in the 130-year history of South Africa's mines, Amplats, Implats and Lonmin reached an agreement in principle with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) about wages.
Union leaders said they will now take the offer to their striking members, who appear ready to accept the deal.
"For the very near term, this is going to be a speed bump for the prices of platinum group metals," said Thomas Capalbo, precious metals trader at brokerage Newedge. Continued...