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. FUNDAMENTALS * 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 said. * 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. DATA AHEAD (GMT) 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 Pullin)
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