PRECIOUS-Gold steadies near 5-month low, U.S. data eyed
SINGAPORE, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Gold held steady on Wednesday after dropping to five-month lows in the previous session, with investors waiting for more U.S. economic data to gauge whether the Federal Reserve will begin cutting monetary stimulus from this month.
* Spot gold was unchanged at $1,223.75 an ounce by 0024 GMT, after slipping to $1,215.60 on Tuesday - its lowest since early July.
* Strong U.S. manufacturing data sent the metal down sharply earlier this week as markets believe a recovering economy would prompt the Fed to slow its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases.
* Data on U.S. GDP and nonfarm payrolls is expected this week and should provide clues about the stimulus outlook as the Fed holds its next policy meeting in Dec. 17-18.
* SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 1.80 tonnes to 841.41 tonnes on Tuesday.
* Indian gold smugglers are adopting the methods of drug couriers to sidestep a government crackdown on imports of the precious metal, stashing gold in imported vehicles and even using mules who swallow nuggets to try to get them past airport security.
* India's silver imports rose to a three-month peak in October and are on track to hit a record this year, data from Thomson Reuters GFMS showed, as buyers opt for the precious metal instead of expensive gold to meet high seasonal demand.
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* Asian stocks could come under pressure on Wednesday after the world's share markets were rattled by fears of an impending reduction in Fed stimulus.
DATA/EVENTS (GMT) 0145 China HSBC Services PMI 0848 France Markit Services PMI 0853 Germany Markit Services PMI 0858 Euro zone Markit Services PMI 1000 Euro zone Revised Q3 GDP 1000 Euro zone Retail sales 1315 U.S. ADP employment report 1330 U.S. International trade 1500 U.S. ISM Non-manufacturing PMI 1500 U.S. New home sales 1900 U.S. Beige book
PRICES AT 0024 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Spot gold 1223.75 0.24 0.02 -26.92 Spot silver 19.1 -0.02 -0.1 -36.92 Spot platinum 1353 -1.25 -0.09 -11.86 Spot palladium 710.4 -3.1 -0.43 2.66 Comex gold Dec3 1223.3 2.5 0.2 -27 Comex silver Dec3 19.13 0.065 0.34 -36.89 Euro 1.3584 DXY 80.644
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Joseph Radford)