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PRECIOUS-Gold holds steady amid softer dollar; markets eye ECB meet

* Spot gold may drop to $1,320-$1,325/oz range -technicals

* ECB rate decision due at 1145 GMT

* Mario Draghi holds news conference at 1230 GMT

(Adds detail, updates prices) Sept 7 (Reuters) - Gold held steady on Thursday, supported markets awaited the outcome of a European Central Bank (ECB) policy meeting later in the day.

Spot gold was unchanged at $1,333.90 per ounce at

0624 GMT, after easing 0.3 percent in the previous session.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery were also

flat at $1,339.10. "The major event for today is the ECB meeting for traders, and if the ECB delivers any unexpected message during the conference that will spook the market and the gold price could benefit," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst, Think Markets. The dollar was subdued on Thursday and the euro stood firm ahead of the outcome of the ECB gathering, where President Mario Draghi is expected to start laying the groundwork to withdraw monetary stimulus. "The odds of geopolitical tensions escalating further are very high. If North Korea does another missile test, it will trigger risk-off trade and the yellow metal could benefit," Aslam added. President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned that the U.S. would no longer tolerate North Korea's actions but said the use of military force against Pyongyang will not be his "first choice." South Korean protesters clashed with thousands of police over the deployment of a defense system aimed at countering potential North Korean missile attacks, while China and the United States discussed options to rein in Pyongyang.

"The market is likely to continue focusing on geopolitical tensions, but it will start to shift focus to the Federal Reserve meeting in September, looking for details on reducing the balance sheet," said Samson Li, an analyst with Thomson Reuters-owned metals consultancy GFMS. The two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting (FOMC) is due to begin on Sept. 19 and the U.S. central bank is widely expected to leave rates unchanged. "I expect some downward pressure on gold starting next week and a rebound in the dollar short-term" Li said. Higher interest rates tend to boost the dollar and push up bond yields, putting pressure on gold prices by increasing the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion. Spot gold may drop into a range of $1,320-$1,325 per ounce as it has failed to break resistance at $1,345, Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao said.

Among other metals, silver was down 0.3 percent at $17.77 an ounce, while platinum fell 0.4 percent to

$998.80 an ounce.

Palladium slipped 0.1 percent to $938.33 an ounce.

(Reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Pullin and Joseph Radford)