May 16 (Reuters) - Gold prices marked time on Thursday as an uptick in equities offset support from doubts over trade talks between the United States and China.
* Spot gold was steady at $1,295.84 per ounce at 0103 GMT.
* U.S. gold futures edged 0.1% lower to $1,296.90 an ounce.
* Asian shares steadied on Thursday on news that U.S. President Donald Trump is planning to delay tariffs on auto imports, providing much needed relief to markets hit by a flare-up in trade tensions and on weak U.S. and Chinese economic data.
* President Trump is expected to delay a decision on imposing tariffs on imported cars and parts by up to six months, three Trump administration officials told Reuters, avoiding opening yet another front in his global trade battles.
* Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday he will likely travel to Beijing soon to continue negotiations with Chinese counterparts as the world’s two biggest economies try to salvage talks aimed at ending their months-long trade war.
* However, the Trump administration hit Chinese telecoms giant Huawei with severe sanctions on Wednesday, adding a new incendiary element to the U.S.-China trade dispute, casting a shade over investor optimism on the Sino-U.S. trade front.
* Escalating geopolitical tensions usually boost inflows into safe-haven gold.
* SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.44 percent to 733.23 tonnes on Wednesday from 736.46 tonnes on Tuesday.
* China Gold International’s first quarter gold production fell 5% to 44,023 ounces from 46,264, the company reported on Wednesday.
* Lonmin Plc will delay or reduce the number of jobs it had planned to cut in South Africa as soaring palladium prices have boosted revenue, its chief executive said, ahead of a takeover by Sibanye-Stillwater.
* The world’s top platinum miners are bracing for a fresh round of negotiations with South African workers as a rise in producer profits is likely to provoke higher wage demands from labour unions including the militant AMCU.
* 1230 U.S. Housing Starts number April
* 1230 U.S. Initial Jobless Claims Weekly (Reporting by Arijit Bose in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)