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PRECIOUS-Gold holds earlier losses on firmer Asian shares

BENGALURU, May 23 (Reuters) - Gold held near three-week lows
early Monday on firmer Asian stocks and growing expectations
that the U.S. Federal Reserve will hike interest rates as early
as June.     

    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold edged up 0.1 percent to $1,252.92 per
ounce by 0041 GMT, hovering near three-week lows after declining
for three days in a row. The metal fell 1.7 percent last week,
marking its biggest weekly decline in two months. 
    * U.S. gold futures were up 0.1 percent to $1,253.70
early on Friday but headed for a 1.2-percent weekly drop.
    * Asian shares rose on Monday after a solid session on Wall
Street as investors bet that the U.S. Federal Reserve was on
track to raise rates sooner rather than later. 
    * The dollar was slightly lower against a basket of major
currencies on Monday, but remained within striking distance of a
two-month peak.     
    * U.S. home resales rose more than expected in April,
suggesting the economy continues to gather pace during the
second quarter.  
    * Conditions for a rate increase by the Federal Reserve are
"on the verge of broadly being met," Eric Rosengren, president
of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, told the Financial Times.
 
    * Hedge funds and money managers raised their bullish bets
in COMEX gold futures and options in the week to May 17, data
showed on Friday. 
    * Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 1.04 percent to 869.26
tonnes on Friday, the largest since November 2013. 
    * The United States issued a fresh warning to Japan against
intervening in currency markets on Saturday as the two
countries' differences over foreign exchange overshadowed a
Group of 7 finance leaders' gathering in the Asian nation.
 
    
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    MARKET NEWS
    * Oil prices slipped in early Asian trade on Monday on a
strong dollar as the odds grow of a June or July rate hike, and
signs that global oil supply is holding up even as unplanned
outages rise to at least a five-year high. 
    
    Day ahead (GMT) 
    0730 Germany Markit Mfg Flash PMI for May 
    0800 Eurozone Markit Mfg Flash PMI for May 
    1345 US Markit Mfg PMI Flash for May 
    1400 EZ Consumer Confidence 

 (Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; Editing by
Richard Pullin)
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