PRECIOUS-Gold holds steady near 1-1/2-year highs on weaker dollar

Jan 25 (Reuters) - Gold prices on Thursday held firm near 1-1/2-year highs hit in the previous session, with the dollar near three-year lows in the wake of comments by U.S. Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin that he welcomed a weaker currency.


* Spot gold was nearly unchanged at $1,357.25 per ounce at 0109 GMT. It rose over 1 percent on Wednesday to hit its highest since Aug. 5, 2016 at $1,361.81.

* U.S. gold futures were mostly unchanged at $1,356.50 per ounce.

* The dollar slumped after Mnuchin told the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday that "obviously a weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities". His comments were seen by markets as a departure from traditional U.S. currency policy.

* The dollar index , which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, hit its weakest since Dec, 2014 at 89.158 on Thursday, matching a more than three-year-low touched on Wednesday.

* The immediate focus was on the ECB's policy setting meeting later in the global day as markets look for any signs that the central bank is worried about the rapidly appreciating euro.

* The euro zone economy may be roaring ahead but a rapidly strengthening euro may see European Central Bank President Mario Draghi pour cold water on the view the bank is speeding towards an interest rate hike.

* Asian stocks held near a record-high on Thursday though concerns about the Trump administration's protectionist stance cast a shadow on financial markets.

* Democratic Republic of Congo's new proposed mining code, which the industry has warned will stifle investment in the copper and cobalt-rich nation, sailed through the Senate without opposition late on Wednesday.

* The field of prospective bidders for ScotiaMocatta, the

metals trading arm of Canada's Bank of Nova Scotia , has

narrowed to two, three banking and industry sources said on Wednesday.

* Zimbabwe's full-year gold production rose to 24.8 tonnes in 2017 from 22.7 tonnes the previous year, the central bank's refining and printing subsidiary said on Wednesday.


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followed by press conference by ECB President Mario Draghi

1330 U.S. Advance goods trade balance Dec 1330 U.S. Wholesale inventories Dec 1330 U.S. Retail inventories Dec 1330 U.S. Weekly jobless claims 1500 U.S. New home sales Dec 1500 U.S. Leading index Dec

(Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph Radford)