Wires

PRECIOUS-Gold little changed as fears of larger U.S.-Iran conflict ease

Jan 9 (Reuters) - Gold prices were steady on Thursday, retreating from the near seven-year peak hit in the previous session, as a softening rhetoric by the United States and Iran allayed concerns of a larger military conflict.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold was unchanged at $1,555.51 per ounce by 0031 GMT. Prices hit their highest since March 2013 at $1,610.90

on Wednesday. U.S. gold futures fell 0.3% to $1,555.90.* President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the United States

did not necessarily have to respond militarily to Iran's attack on military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq.

* Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the strikes "concluded" Tehran's response to the killing of top military commander Qassem Soleimani.

* U.S. private payrolls increased by the most in eight months in December, pointing to sustained labor market strength.

* The World Bank on Wednesday trimmed its global growth forecasts slightly for 2019 and 2020 due to a slower-than-expected recovery in trade and investment despite cooler trade tensions between the United States and China.

* The Perth Mint's gold product sales in December rose to their highest in more than three years, the refiner said on Wednesday, citing higher demand from Germany.

* Holdings of the world's largest gold-backed

exchange-traded fund SPDR Gold Trust fell 1.05% to 886.81

tonnes on Wednesday.

* Elsewhere, palladium edged up 0.2% to $2,108.31 an ounce, trading near the all-time peak of $2,108.81 hit in the previous session on supply concerns.

* Silver gained 0.2% to $18.12 per ounce, after hitting its highest since September at $18.85 on Wednesday,

while platinum inched up 0.1% to $954.26.

DATA/EVENTS (GMT)

0130 China PPI, CPI YY Dec0700 Germany Industrial Output MM Nov1000 EU Unemployment Rate Nov1330 US Initial Jobless Claims Weekly

(Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)