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PRECIOUS-Gold holds steady as dollar eases

Oct 31 (Reuters) - Gold held steady early on Tuesday as the dollar eased after reports that two former aides of U.S. President Donald Trump were charged by federal authorities probing Russian interference in the 2016 election.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold was little changed at $1,276.32 per ounce at 1254 GMT. The yellow metal has shed about 0.2 percent so far in October, in what could be its second straight monthly decline.

* U.S. gold futures for December delivery were little changed at $1,277.30.

* The dollar index against a basket of currencies held on to its losses from the previous session, when it fell about 0.4 percent.

* Federal investigators charged Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and another aide, Rick Gates, with money laundering on Monday. A third former Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty in early October to lying to the FBI, it was announced on Monday.

* Trump is likely to pick Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell as the next head of the central bank, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday, prompting investors to push down yields on Treasury notes. Trump is expected to announce his choice on Thursday.

* U.S. consumer spending recorded its biggest increase in more than eight years in September, likely as households in Texas and Florida replaced flood-damaged motor vehicles, but underlying inflation remained muted.

* As a self-imposed mid-week deadline for unveiling a tax-cut bill loomed, Republicans in the U.S. Congress were still grappling with key provisions and some lobbyists expressed concern that a bill might not be ready as expected on Wednesday.

* The Bank of Japan is set to keep monetary policy steady and roughly maintain its ambitious price forecasts on Tuesday, pointing to signs of growing strength in the economy that policymakers hope will accelerate inflation towards its elusive 2 percent target.

* Asian stocks were mostly sluggish on Tuesday following weakness on Wall Street with MSCI's broadest index of

Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gaining 0.1

percent.

* Spain's state prosecutor accused sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Monday of rebellion and sedition as the former regional president travelled to Belgium with other members of his ousted administration and hired a lawyer there.

DATA/EVENT AHEAD (GMT)

0100 China NBS Non-Mfg PMI Oct 0300-0500 Japan BOJ rate decision 0630 France GDP Preliminary Q3 1000 Euro Zone GDP Flash Prelim Q3 1300 U.S. CaseShiller 20 MM SA Aug

(Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)