PRECIOUS-Gold prices edge higher as U.S. Treasury yields retreat

    March 2 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged higher on Tuesday as a
retreat in U.S. Treasury yields and optimism over the $1.9
trillion coronavirus relief bill lifted the allure of the
non-yielding metal.
    * Spot gold        was up 0.2% at $1,726.84 per ounce by
0046 GMT. U.S. gold futures        added 0.1% to $1,723.80.
    * Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields eased further from a
one-year high hit last week as Federal Reserve officials
continued to downplay runaway inflation concerns.     
    * While gold is considered a shield against inflation,
higher yields have of late threatened that status, since they
translate into higher opportunity cost of holding bullion, which
pays no return.  
    * The U.S. Senate will start debating President Joe Biden's
coronavirus relief bill this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck
Schumer said on Monday.            
    * U.S. manufacturing activity increased to a three-year high
in February amid a surge in new orders.             
    * The European Central Bank slowed its net purchases of debt
last week even as borrowing costs jumped in the financial
markets, casting a shadow over a nascent recovery in the
pandemic-stricken euro zone economy.                
    * U.S. bank Wells Fargo         said it has expanded its
precious metals trading business, filling gaps in the market
left by the withdrawal of Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)
    * Holdings of the world's largest gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust      , fell 0.8% to
1,084.5 tonnes on Monday.          
    * Silver        gained 0.5% to $26.60 an ounce, while
palladium        climbed 0.4% at $2,358.16. Platinum        rose
0.7% to $1,193.45.    
0330  Australia  RBA Cash Rate                  March
0700  UK         Nationwide House Price MM, YY  Feb
0855  Germany    Unemployment Chg, Rate Sa      Feb
1000  EU         HICP Flash YY                  Feb
1000  EU         HICP-X F&E Flash YY            Feb

 (Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry