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PRECIOUS-Gold holds steady at near three-week high as dollar firms

Nov 9 (Reuters) - Gold held steady early on Thursday after marking a near three-week high in the previous session as the dollar firmed, while palladium remained close to an over 16-year peak touched on Wednesday.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold was nearly unchanged at $1,280.81 per ounce at 0101 GMT. On Wednesday, it rose 0.4 percent and touched its highest since Oct. 20 at $1,287.13 an ounce.

* U.S. gold futures for December delivery dipped 0.2 percent to $1,281.40.

* Palladium gained 0.1 percent to $1,014.25 an ounce. It touched its highest since 2001 at $1,019 on Wednesday.

* The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was up 0.1 pct.

* Asia stocks hovered near a decade high on Thursday following another record-breaking day on Wall Street.

* A Senate tax-cut bill, differing from one in the House of Representatives, was expected to be unveiled on Thursday, complicating a Republican push to overhaul the federal tax code.

* North Korea and trade will likely top the agenda when U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping sit down for formal talks on Thursday, a day after Trump warned Pyongyang of the grave danger of developing nuclear weapons.

* The IMF on Wednesday urged Japan to maintain its massive monetary stimulus to boost consumer prices, a view echoed by a central bank board member, reinforcing expectations policy will remain accommodative.

* The Bank of Japan's nine-member board debated calls from one of its policymakers to target the longer end of the yield curve at a rate review in October, a summary of their opinions showed on Thursday, with several stressing that the current stimulus was sufficient.

* India's gold imports in the last quarter of 2017 could drop by a fourth from a year ago due to weak demand during key festivals and as investors seek better returns from riskier assets such as equities, industry officials and analysts said.

* Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust , the world's largest

gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell for the fifth straight day on Wednesday by 0.14 percent to 843.09 tonnes.

DATA/EVENT AHEAD (GMT)

0130 China Consumer prices Oct 0130 China Producer prices Oct 0700 Germany Trade data Sep

1330 U.S. Weekly jobless claims

1500 U.S. Wholesale sales Sep

(Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)