PRECIOUS-Gold steady near lowest in over 4 wks, rate hike outlook drags

    March 8 (Reuters) - Gold prices were steady on Wednesday
ahead of U.S. payrolls data this week, but were not far from
over four-week lows hit in the previous session on increased
expectations of a U.S. rate hike in March.
    * Spot gold        was mostly unchanged at $1,216.1 per
ounce at 0045 GMT. The metal marked its lowest since Feb. 3 at
$1,213.6 an ounce in the previous session.
    * U.S. gold futures         were flat at $1,216.4.
    * The dollar index        was down 0.1 percent at 101.75.
    * Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive officer at DoubleLine
Capital, said on Tuesday he expects the Federal Reserve to begin
a campaign this month of "old school" sequential interest rate
hikes until "something breaks", such as a U.S. recession.
    * U.S. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said last week that the
central bank was poised to lift benchmark U.S. rates provided
jobs and inflation data held up, comments seen as cementing
plans for an increase at the Fed's March 14-15 meeting.
    * Early last week, financial markets saw just a 30 percent
chance of the Fed raising interest rates in March; but by Friday
after a striking series of comments from Fed officials, traders
saw an 80 percent chance.             
    * The U.S. economy is on track to grow at a 1.3 percent
annualized pace in the first quarter following the latest data
on domestic vehicle sales and factory orders, the Atlanta Fed's
GDP Now forecast model showed on Tuesday.             
    * Investors are now awaiting non-farm payrolls data for
February on Friday, seen rising by 190,000 in a Reuters poll
        , regarded as an important barometer of the U.S.
    * China's gold reserves were unchanged for a fourth month in
February, the country's central bank said on Tuesday, the
longest time in which it has not added to its holdings since it
began updating the data monthly in mid-2015.             
    * South African stocks edged lower on Tuesday, led by gold
mining shares as the price of the metal slipped to its weakest
level in four weeks, while the rand gained, shrugging off a
fourth quarter contraction in gross domestic product.
    * Holdings of the largest gold-backed exchange-traded-fund
(ETF), New York's SPDR Gold Trust      , fell 0.45 percent on

    0200 China    Trade data              Feb
    0745 France   Trade data              Jan
    0800 Germany  Industrial output       Jan
    1315 U.S.     ADP national employment Feb
    1500 U.S.     Wholesale sales         Jan

 (Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph