PRECIOUS-Gold steady as UK goes to polls; ECB meeting in focus

    * Gold prices could see strong intraday volatility - analyst
    * Ex-FBI director testimony, ECB meeting set for later in
the day
    * Gold previously slipped as written testimony from ex-FBI
director showed a few surprises

 (Updates prices, adds quote)
    By Vijaykumar Vedala and Koustav Samanta
    BENGALURU, June 8 (Reuters) - Gold held steady on Thursday
as investors awaited cues on market direction amid a number of
geopolitical events later in the day that could boost the
safe-haven demand for the metal.
    Polling has started in the UK national elections, while the
European Central Bank (ECB) may discuss dropping additional
stimulus pledges at a meeting later and former United States
Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey will
testify before the U.S. Congress about his interactions with
President Donald Trump later in the day.
    "Unless there is a major surprise today and the Labor Party
gets up over the Conservatives, I doubt there will be much
reaction to gold price from the UK election. The market has
already priced this," said Cameron Alexander, an analyst with
Thomson Reuters-owned metals consultancy GFMS.
    "A more bullish forecast (from ECB meeting) is likely to
lead to a movement away from gold to higher-yielding asset,
although any move will be modest." 
    Spot gold        was nearly flat at $1,285.91 per ounce, as
of 0809 GMT.     
    U.S. gold futures         for August delivery dipped 0.4
percent to $1,288.20 an ounce.  
    "A lot of things are happening at the same time... There may
be some kind of impact that may push up the volatility rather
than the direction of price moves," said Mark To, head of
research at Hong Kong's Wing Fung Financial Group. 
    The yellow metal fell from a near seven-month high on
Wednesday after Comey's written testimony to the U.S. Senate
contained few surprises.             
    A final flurry of opinion polls gave British Prime Minister
Theresa May's Conservative Party a lead between 5 and 12
percentage points over the main opposition Labour Party,
suggesting she would increase her majority - but not win the
landslide foreseen when she called the election seven weeks ago.
    "With the (UK poll) results coming out during the Asian
session on Friday morning, the downside for gold is likely to be
limited as we run into the weekend," said Jeffrey Halley, senior
market analyst at OANDA.
    Meanwhile, the ECB is likely to keep its easy monetary
policy during its meeting as inflation remains below its target
despite stronger economic growth in the euro zone.             
    In other precious metals, palladium        gained as much as
0.7 percent to $840.10 an ounce. In the previous session, it hit
the highest in near three years, but shed its early gains to end
2.3 percent lower.     
    Platinum climbed 0.6 percent to $947.80 per ounce, and
silver        rose 0.5 percent to $17.63. 

 (Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala and Koustav Samanta in
Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Sherry