PRECIOUS-Gold flat after ECB leaves rates unchanged
* Focus on Draghi's comments, euro
* Platinum and palladium hold near multi-month highs
LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Gold held to tight ranges on Thursday after the European Central Bank (ECB) left interest rates unchanged and as the focus turns to an imminent press conference that could give further clues on monetary policy.
Platinum and palladium stayed close to their highest levels in almost a year and a half, boosted by a brightened economic outlook. The world's largest PGMs miner Anglo American Platinum also rejected criticism of its plan to mothball two mines and slash up to 14,000 jobs to restore profits.
Gold hit an intraday high at $1,680.95, before easing to stand flat on the day at $1,676.46 an ounce by 1258 GMT.
U.S. gold futures for April delivery were also unchanged at $1,676.50 an ounce, while a weaker Japanese yen against the dollar sent gold futures on Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM) to another record at 5,081 yen a gram overnight.
The ECB decided to leave its main interest rate at 0.75 percent.
Analysts said investors will be alert for comments from president Mario Draghi about any negative impact of a strong currency on the fragile euro zone economy at a news conference scheduled at 1330 GMT.
"It is going to be interesting to see if the ECB says anything about currencies today," BofA Merrill Lynch analyst Michael Widmer said.
"But you need a bit more in terms of inflation pressures or monetary interventions by central banks in emerging markets for gold buyers to come back into the market," he added.
The euro, which often dictates gold's movements, could fall if Draghi voices concerns about the single currency's recent sharp rise. But the central bank is seen unlikely to contemplate an interest rate cut.
Bullion has struggled to make positive headway so far this year after signs of improvement in the global economy prompted some investors to shift to growth associated assets, such as platinum group metals (PGMs).
Gold physical activity also began to slow down ahead of the long Lunar New Year break, with premiums for gold bars in Hong Kong easing to $1 to $1.50 an ounce to the spot London price from as high as $1.70 last week.
China's gold production rose for a sixth consecutive year to hit a record 403 tonnes in 2012, keeping its ranking as the world's largest bullion producer, the Shanghai Securities News said on Thursday.
WHITE METALS PAUSE
Platinum and palladium were steady after hitting 17-month highs in the previous session on positive economic data.
Platinum was steady at close's levels of $1,732.74 an ounce, having risen to $1,740 on Wednesday, its strongest since September 2011. Palladium inched up 0.4 percent to $763.22 an ounce. The metal rose as high as $769.50 in the previous session, also its peak since September 2011.
A weak yen also lifted platinum futures on TOCOM, with the most active December contract jumping to its highest since early 2010 at 5,299 yen a gram.
Both metals, which are used in jewellery and auto catalysts, have gained on a more positive economic outlook and after mining disruptions in South Africa, as well as a drop in supply from Russia, triggered fears of a deficit. But analysts say a short-term correction is likely, considering strong speculative interest.
"The momentum suggests that there is some more upside to be had - but extra vigilance is required," broker UBS said in a note.
"Any risk-off development or negative economic data print would easily trigger an overdue washout, considering the amount of net speculative longs."
(Editing by William Hardy)