PRECIOUS-Gold prices edge down, awaits hints on pace of U.S. rate hikes

    Feb 21 (Reuters) - Gold prices eased slightly on Tuesday
amid a firmer dollar as investors waited on clues on the timing
of U.S. interest rate hikes in a host of speeches by Federal
Reserve officials.
    * Spot gold        inched down 0.2 percent to $1,235.08 per
ounce at 0058 GMT, while U.S. gold futures         also fell 0.2
percent to $1,236.2. The dollar index        edged up 0.1
percent to 101.09.
    * Market activity is likely to be largely subdued until
guidance on the pace of interest rate hikes from a raft of
Federal Reserve speakers.
    * The heads of five regional U.S. Federal Reserve banks are
scheduled to speak this week. In addition, Fed Board Governor
Jerome Powell appears on Wednesday, when minutes of the last
policy meeting are also due.                
    * Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester said on
Monday she would be comfortable raising interest rates at this
point if the economy kept performing the way it did.
    * Holdings of the largest gold-backed exchange traded fund
(ETF), New York's SPDR Gold Trust GLD, fell 0.28 percent on
Friday from Thursday, while the largest silver-backed ETF, New
York's iShares Silver Trust SLV, remained unchanged during the
same period.          
    * U.S. markets were closed on Monday for Presidents Day.
    * Russia's central bank, which is seeking to diversify its
monetary reserves, posted a 2 percent rise in its gold reserves
last month after a pause in purchases in December.             
    * Asian stocks held near 1-1/2-year highs in subdued early
trade on Tuesday as a holiday in the United States left
investors with few catalysts, while the euro nursed overnight
losses as lingering concerns about the looming French election
rattled its bonds.             
    * Euro zone consumer confidence fell in February in both the
euro zone and the wider European Union, figures released on
Monday showed.             
    * Greece and its international lenders agreed on Monday to
let teams of experts work out new reforms to Greek pensions,
income tax and labour market that would allow Athens to
eventually qualify for more cheap loans, euro zone officials
    * British manufacturers had their best month in two years in
February but the post-Brexit vote fall in the value of the pound
is making them push up their prices sharply, posing a challenge
for 2017, an industry survey showed.             
     0800 France    Markit manufacturing flash PMI    Feb
     0830 Germany   Markit manufacturing flash PMI    Feb
     0900 Euro zone Markit manufacturing flash PMI    Feb
     1445 U.S.      Markit manufacturing flash PMI    Feb


 (Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard