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PRECIOUS-Gold steady as softer dollar, stimulus hopes lend support

    Oct 1 (Reuters) - Gold prices steadied in early trade on
Thursday as a softer dollar and progress on another U.S.
coronavirus relief package countered pressure from an upbeat
U.S. private payrolls data. 
    
    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold        was steady at $1,884.67 per ounce by 0058
GMT. 
    * U.S. gold futures        were down 0.2% at $1,890.90.
    * The dollar index        hovered around a one-week low hit
in the previous session.       
    * U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday said
talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made progress on COVID-19
relief legislation, and the House of Representatives postponed a
vote on a $2.2 trillion Democratic plan to allow more time for a
bipartisan deal to come together.             
    * Gold, seen as a hedge against inflation and currency
depreciation, has gained 24% so far this year, supported by
monetary stimulus from major central banks and governments.
    * Latest data from ADP National Employment Report showed
U.S. private employers stepped up hiring in September. 
            
    * Another piece of data, however, showed U.S. gross domestic
product plunged at a 31.4% annualized rate in the second
quarter, the steepest drop since the government started keeping
records in 1947.             
    * European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde set the
scene on Wednesday for a change of strategy that could align the
ECB with the U.S. Federal Reserve, possibly including a
commitment to let inflation overshoot after it has been low for
too long.             
    * Silver        rose 0.2% to $23.25 per ounce, platinum
       was up 0.4% to $891.95 and palladium        edged 0.2%
higher to $2,309.07.

    DATA/EVENTS (GMT)
    0750  France  Markit Mfg PMI                 Sept
    0755  Germany Markit/BME Mfg PMI            Sept
    0800  EU      Markit Mfg Final PMI          Sept
    0830  UK      Markit/CIPS Mfg PMI Final     Sept
    0900  EU      Unemployment Rate             Aug
    1230  US      Consumption Adjusted MM       Aug
    1230  US      Initial Jobless Clm           Weekly
    1345  US      Markit Mfg PMI Final          Sept
    1400  US      ISM Manufacturing PMI         Sept

 (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry
Jacob-Phillips)
  
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