PRECIOUS-Gold climbs for 2nd day as dollar, stocks ease
SINGAPORE, July 4 (Reuters) - Gold edged higher for a second session on Thursday on safe-haven buying, bolstered by a weaker dollar and drops in Asian stocks after mixed U.S. economic data added to worries over Europe and China.
* Spot gold rose 0.3 percent to $1,254.56 an ounce by 0012 GMT, after gaining almost 1 percent on Wednesday. Comex gold rose about $2 percent to $1,253.60.
* U.S. private employers stepped up hiring in June and new applications for unemployment benefits fell for a second straight week last week, pointing to a steadily improving labour market picture.
* Still, the pace of economic growth remains lacklustre, with other reports on Wednesday showing a slowing in activity in the service industries last month and a widening in the trade deficit in May.
* The markets are eyeing U.S. nonfarm payrolls data on Friday to determine when the Federal Reserve would begin tapering its $85 billion monthly bond buying stimulus.
* Portugal's 10-year bond yield shot above 8 percent and its stock market slumped 5 percent on fears a snap election could derail Lisbon's exit next year from a bailout by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
* China's inter-bank funding costs fell sharply on Wednesday, with key rates approaching normal levels following an unprecedented cash squeeze last month. However, caution lingered over the liquidity outlook for the coming months, especially as growing signs of an economic slowdown threaten to add to strains on the banking system and fuel more capital outflows.
* Gold demand in India, the world's biggest buyer of the metal, remained lukewarm on Wednesday as a drop in the rupee lifted local prices by more than one percent amid restrictions by the central bank on gold imports.
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* The U.S. dollar steadied in Asia on Thursday having veered lower overnight as investors trimmed back long positions into a U.S. holiday. The Nikkei average opened lower.
DATA/EVENTS (GMT) 1100 Britain BOE bank rate 1145 Euro zone ECB refinancing rate 1230 ECB President Draghi holds news conference after policy meeting
Precious metals prices 0012 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume Spot Gold 1254.56 3.37 +0.27 -25.08 Spot Silver 19.78 0.09 +0.46 -34.68 Spot Platinum 1351.24 14.24 +1.07 -11.97 Spot Palladium 683.97 1.47 +0.22 -1.16 COMEX GOLD AUG3 1253.60 1.70 +0.14 -25.19 992 COMEX SILVER SEP3 19.75 0.05 +0.25 -34.83 Euro/Dollar 1.3012 Dollar/Yen 99.83
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Ed Davies)