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PRECIOUS-Gold steady as rally in equities loses steam

BENGALURU, July 20 (Reuters) - Gold was little changed in
Asian trade on Wednesday, as bullion gleaned little impetus from
weaker equities as the dollar rose to a four-month high on the
back of better than expected U.S. housing data.
    
    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,332.87 an ounce
at 0056 GMT. It closed at $1,331.73 on Tuesday.
    * U.S. gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,333.30 an
ounce.
    * Gold has risen over 25 percent this year, hitting its
highest since March 2014 at $1,374.91 earlier this month.
    * Asian stocks stepped back early on Wednesday after a
record run on Wall Street showed signs of petering out.
 
    * MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
 fell 0.2 percent, putting some distance between
a nine-month high struck late last week.
    * U.S. housing starts rose more than expected in June as
construction activity increased broadly, but downward revisions
to the prior months' data pointed to a sector treading water in
the second quarter. 
    * The dollar firmed in early Asian trading on Wednesday, as
strong U.S. data and rising expectations that the Bank of Japan
will muster additional easing steps sent the dollar index to
four-month highs. 
    * Global investors, fretting over economic growth and
Brexit, have cut equity allocations to underweight for the first
time in four years while raising cash to the highest in almost
15 years, a Bank of America Merill Lynch survey showed on
Tuesday. 
    * The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its global
growth forecasts for the next two years on Tuesday, citing
uncertainty over Britain's looming exit from the European Union.
 
    *  South Africa's Impala Platinum (Implats) has
extended the tenure and amount of its existing debt facilities
from certain local banking institutions in order to further
strengthen its balance sheet, it said on Tuesday. 

    * For the top stories on metals and other news, click
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    MARKET REPORT
    * Oil futures rose in early Asian trading on Wednesday after
an industry group released weekly figures showing U.S.
stockpiles fell more than expected last week. 
    
    Data ahead (GMT) 
    1200 Euro Zone Consumer Confidence Flash for July  
    2100 Japan Reuters Tankan July 

 (Reporting By Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Ed
Davies)
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