* Spot gold remains close to Friday's one-week high
* Hedge funds cut long position in COMEX gold for second week
(Updates prices, adds quotes) BENGALURU, June 26 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged lower on Monday as investors remained cautious ahead of a flurry of U.S. data due this week, with firmer Asian stocks also weighing on the market. Investors will watch U.S. data including June consumer confidence, pending home sales, crude oil inventories and revised first quarter GDP for any signs of softness that could push back rate hike expectations. "The market is looking at this week with caution... There's certainly some expectations of disappointing data and also a more dovish Fed, that could keep gold prices elevated," ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes said. "Anything on the inflation front will be constantly watched."
Spot gold fell 0.2 percent to $1,254.00 per ounce at
0515 GMT, staying not far off a one-week high hit on Friday.
U.S. gold futures for August delivery fell 0.1
percent to $1,255.2 per ounce. "We do not see much happening in gold this week and expect a continuation of a sideways slog as a trifecta of weaker oil, a stronger dollar and firmer U.S. equities all combine to keep gold rallies somewhat in check," said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir. Fed chair Janet Yellen will be speaking on Tuesday and could provide the market with some direction, Meir added. The dollar drifted on Monday as U.S. Treasury yields stayed low amid fading expectations that the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates again later this year. "I think there's a chance for a potential delay in rate hikes which would support gold prices even further," Hynes said. Gold is highly sensitive to rising rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.
Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust , the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.35 percent to 851.02 tonnes on Friday. Hedge funds and money managers slashed their net long position in COMEX gold for the second straight week in the week to June 20, and cut it slightly in silver, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday. Asian shares edged up on Monday on optimism about global growth with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside
Japan gaining 0.4 percent. Among other precious metals, silver was nearly flat at $16.69 per ounce. Platinum was also nearly flat at $925.60 per ounce. Palladium rose one percent to $860.50
(Reporting by Nithin Prasad and Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Pullin)