July 25, 2019 / 1:47 AM / 4 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold prices ease amid firmer dollar; markets eye ECB meet

July 25 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged lower on Thursday as the U.S. dollar hovered near multi-week highs, while investors awaited clues on monetary policy easing from leading central banks to shore up global economy.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold was down 0.2% at $1,422.31 per ounce, as of 0120 GMT.

* U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,423.50 an ounce.

* The dollar index was relatively unchanged against a basket of major currencies, after hitting a five-week peak in the previous session.

* Investor focus shifted to the European Central Bank (ECB) meeting due later in the day and a widely expected interest rate cut from the U.S. Federal Reserve next week, which are expected to dictate the tempo for currencies and bond yields in coming months.

* Cementing hopes of a rate cut, a series of purchasing manager index (PMI) readings in the United States and Europe on Wednesday came in weaker than expected.

* In the United States, manufacturing activity slowed to a 10-year low in early July with production volumes and purchases falling. Weak housing and manufacturing are offsetting strong consumer spending, holding back the economy and posing a threat to the longest expansion in history.

* PMI data showed euro zone manufacturing contracting for a sixth straight month, dragging the euro to a two-month low against the dollar.

* Asian shares were cautious on Thursday, shrugging off a tech-fuelled rally on Wall Street, while the euro hovered near two-month lows as soft economic data bolstered expectations of rate cuts in Europe.

* SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings dropped 0.11% to 822.25 tonnes on Wednesday from 823.13 tonnes on Tuesday.

DATA AHEAD

* 1145 EU ECB Refinancing Rate July

* 1145 EU ECB Deposit Rate July

* 1230 US Durable Goods June

* 1230 US Initial Jobless Claims Weekly (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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