PRECIOUS-Gold slightly up on softer dollar, equities

* China, Hong Kong closed on Monday for Lunar New Year

* Euro hits two-month low vs dollar

* Investors await U.S. manufacturing, payrolls data

(Updates throughout, changes dateline from SINGAPORE)

LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Gold inched up on Monday, gaining support from a weaker dollar and lower equity markets as tensions in emerging markets persist, but the absence of leading buyer China for the Lunar New Year holiday kept prices in check.

Emerging markets, economic growth in the United States and the Federal Reserve's move to taper stimulus are likely to remain the main drivers in the short term, analysts said.

"The big issue right now is emerging markets troubles, which drew gold prices up over the past few weeks and if the immediate risk coming from that subsides, prices could gold a little bit lower," BofA Merrill Lynch analyst Michael Widmer said.

Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,246.30 an ounce by 1054 GMT. Bullion snapped five weeks of advances last week, falling 2 percent, but posted a 3.2 percent gain in January, the first monthly increase in five, due to weakness in global equities gripped by concerns over emerging economies.

U.S. gold futures for February delivery rose 0.5 percent at $1,245.80 an ounce.

European shares slipped, hurt by data showing China's economy losing momentum, while growing pressure for another policy easing in Europe shoved the euro to 10-week lows.

The dollar index, which recorded its best monthly gain in 8 months in January, was down 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies.

The United States releases its manufacturing purchasing managers' index report on Monday to gauge the strength of the economy, while the focus will be Friday's U.S. nonfarm payrolls report.

"I think one of the concerns that we have for the emerging markets is the impact on advanced nations, but strong U.S. data makes people a little bit less willing to increase their exposure to gold," Widmer said. "There is a lot of data this week and if you get strength there, that's supportive for the dollar."

As a gauge of investor interest, hedge funds and money managers raised their net long positions in gold futures and options for a fifth consecutive week, and slashed their long positions in silver in the week to Jan. 28, data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed on Friday.


Markets in China, the world's biggest buyer of bullion, are closed until Friday, while Hong Kong, a major trading hub, is shut on Monday.

Shanghai premiums for gold bars over the London spot price had fallen to $4 an ounce just before the holiday from over $20 at the beginning of the month, indicating a drop in buying interest.

"Seasonality shows that the Shanghai-London price differential, a key measure of the strength of Chinese domestic demand, is likely to remain weak over the next two weeks," said ANZ in a note.

Sales of the U.S. Mint's American Eagle gold coins fell 40 percent year-on-year in January, typically the busiest month of the year, as uncertainty over bullion prices continued to dampen interest from collectors.

Spot silver rose 0.5 percent to $19.17 an ounce, while palladium gained 0.8 percent to $706.50 an ounce.

Platinum rose 1 percent to $1,387.75 an ounce. Wage talks between South Africa's AMCU union and the top three platinum producers are set to continue this week.

(Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by William Hardy)