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PRECIOUS-Gold steady as UK goes to polls; ECB meeting in focus

* Gold prices could see strong intraday volatility - analyst

* Ex-FBI director testimony, ECB meeting set for later in the day

* Gold previously slipped as written testimony from ex-FBI director showed a few surprises

(Updates prices, adds quote) BENGALURU, June 8 (Reuters) - Gold held steady on Thursday as investors awaited cues on market direction amid a number of geopolitical events later in the day that could boost the safe-haven demand for the metal. Polling has started in the UK national elections, while the European Central Bank (ECB) may discuss dropping additional stimulus pledges at a meeting later and former United States Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey will testify before the U.S. Congress about his interactions with President Donald Trump later in the day. "Unless there is a major surprise today and the Labor Party gets up over the Conservatives, I doubt there will be much reaction to gold price from the UK election. The market has already priced this," said Cameron Alexander, an analyst with Thomson Reuters-owned metals consultancy GFMS. "A more bullish forecast (from ECB meeting) is likely to lead to a movement away from gold to higher-yielding asset, although any move will be modest."

Spot gold was nearly flat at $1,285.91 per ounce, as

of 0809 GMT.

U.S. gold futures for August delivery dipped 0.4

percent to $1,288.20 an ounce. "A lot of things are happening at the same time... There may be some kind of impact that may push up the volatility rather than the direction of price moves," said Mark To, head of research at Hong Kong's Wing Fung Financial Group. The yellow metal fell from a near seven-month high on Wednesday after Comey's written testimony to the U.S. Senate contained few surprises. A final flurry of opinion polls gave British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party a lead between 5 and 12 percentage points over the main opposition Labour Party, suggesting she would increase her majority - but not win the landslide foreseen when she called the election seven weeks ago.

"With the (UK poll) results coming out during the Asian session on Friday morning, the downside for gold is likely to be limited as we run into the weekend," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA. Meanwhile, the ECB is likely to keep its easy monetary policy during its meeting as inflation remains below its target despite stronger economic growth in the euro zone.

In other precious metals, palladium gained as much as

0.7 percent to $840.10 an ounce. In the previous session, it hit the highest in near three years, but shed its early gains to end 2.3 percent lower. Platinum climbed 0.6 percent to $947.80 per ounce, and

silver rose 0.5 percent to $17.63.

(Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala and Koustav Samanta in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)