PRECIOUS-Gold steady, on track for second straight weekly gain

    BENGALURU, July 21 (Reuters) - Gold held steady early on
Friday and was on track for a second consecutive weekly gain
after easing from a three-week high hit in the previous session.
    * Spot gold        edged down 0.04 percent to $1,243.80 per
ounce at 0049 GMT after touching a three-week high on $1,247.48
an ounce in the previous session. It has risen about 1.3 percent
for the week so far.    
    * U.S. gold futures         for August delivery fell 0.15
percent to $1,243.60 per ounce.
    * The dollar headed for weekly losses on Friday, wallowing
at its lowest levels against the euro in nearly two years after
European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said policymakers would
discuss changing its bond-buying programme in the autumn. 
    * The ECB left its ultra easy monetary policy unchanged on
Thursday and did not even discuss clawing back stimulus,
suggesting it may delay an inevitable decision on tapering bond
buys until the latest possible moment.                     
    * The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits
fell more than expected last week, touching its lowest level in
nearly five months, suggesting strong job gains that should
continue to underpin economic growth.             
    * The European Union and Britain offered few compromises at
their first full round of Brexit talks which ended on Thursday,
and the pound fell on worries that British ministers were
prepared to walk away without a deal.             
    * The Bank of Japan kept monetary policy steady on Thursday
but once again pushed back the timing for achieving its
ambitious inflation target, reinforcing views it will lag well
behind other major central banks in scaling back its massive
stimulus programme.            
    * Expectations are firming for major central banks to turn
further away from ultra-easy monetary policy despite scant
evidence of a pickup in inflation, Reuters polls of more than
500 economists showed on Thursday.             
    * India's Paytm plans to sell 5 tonnes of gold valued around
$200 million this year, the digital payments firm said on
Friday, as it strives to develop a viable business from its
e-wallet platform.             
    * U.S. Senate Republicans, scolded by President Donald Trump
for failing to overturn Obamacare, tried to salvage their
seven-year effort for a new healthcare law on Thursday, but
leading senators indicated frustration over shifting goal posts.
    1430    U.S.     ECRI weekly index 

 (Reporting by Nithin Prasad in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard