PRECIOUS-Gold steadies above 2-month low after U.S. govt shutdown
* Gold rises after 3 percent fall on Tuesday
* Markets focus on US political deadlock, ECB meeting
* China holiday dampen physical gold buying
LONDON, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Gold edged up on Wednesday after a three percent fall in the previous session to a three-month low, as investors focused on the first U.S. government shutdown in 17 years, which sent the dollar lower.
A standoff between President Barack Obama and Republican lawmakers forced the U.S. government to begin a partial shutdown on Tuesday. And now an even bigger battle looms as Congress must raise the debt limit in coming weeks or risk a default that could roil global markets.
Investors have generally taken the view that the U.S. deadlock would prove temporary, but there are growing worries about its implications for talks on raising the U.S. public debt ceiling later this month.
"Gold was expected to get a stronger support from the U.S. political shutdown... it is gaining some ground today (but) it is still at risk of further liquidation," Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar said.
"There is a view in the market that the longer the U.S. shutdown continues, the more likely you're going to get in that agreement to raise the debt level (because) politicians ...may wish to agree on the debt rate quickly ...and that is bearish for gold because you are not going to get the U.S. defaulting."
Gold's safe-haven appeal is usually burnished by uncertain economy and geopolitical tensions and prolonged U.S. budget talks had initially prompted hopes that gold prices could rise, but safe-haven bids struggled to emerge in the previous sessions.
Spot gold edged up 0.5 percent to $1,292.60 an ounce by 1028 GMT. It reached its weakest since Aug. 7 at $1,278.24 on Tuesday. U.S. gold futures for December were up $6.80 an ounce to $1,292.90.
Bullion posted its biggest daily percentage drop in more than two weeks on Tuesday, down 3 percent, following a big Comex sell order and technical selling once prices fell below $1,300 an ounce.
The sharp slide in the previous session stirred market talk of forced liquidation by a distressed commodities fund and of selling related to a fund rebalancing on the first day of the third quarter, although no details could be confirmed.
"There have been some rumours that a hedge fund was liquidating heavily and then once prices fell through $1,300 you just got the technical sellers coming in," Bhar said.
Analysts said the next support for gold was at around $1,270 an ounce.
Investors will also watch European Central Bank policy meeting later in the day that is widely expected to stick to its policy course.
With key buyer China out for the National Day holidays through Oct. 7, prices are not seen bouncing back strongly.
Traders are now closely watching the U.S. situation for more trading cues.
"With the Chinese out until Tuesday next week, the market is likely to weaken further with the absence of the natural bid," ANZ said in a note.
Silver rose 0.3 percent to $21.17 an ounce.
Spot platinum was up 0.5 percent to $1,381.74 an ounce and spot palladium fell 0.3 percent to $713.22 an ounce.
Talks will resume on Thursday to seek an end to a strike that has brought most of the operations of South Africa's Anglo American Platinum to a standstill for nearly one week, the head of the union behind the stoppage said.