PRECIOUS-Gold rises, set for biggest weekly gain since mid-April

    May 19 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged higher early Friday and
were on track for their biggest weekly gain since mid-April as
the dollar softened and stocks eased amid the ongoing political
crisis in the United States that weakened risk appetite.
    * Spot gold        rose 0.3 percent to $1,250.20 per ounce
by 0102 GMT. It slipped 1.1 percent on Thursday in its biggest
one-day percentage drop since May 3 to snap a five-day rally.
The yellow metal was up about 1.8 percent for the week thus far.
    * U.S. gold futures         were down 0.2 percent at
$1,250.40 an ounce.
    * The dollar traded above six-month lows against an index of
six major currencies on Friday but was down 0.1 percent after
gaining some reprieve overnight, helped by solid U.S. economic
    *  MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside
Japan                 fell 0.3 percent.
    * President Donald Trump, striking a defiant tone on
Thursday after days of political tumult, denied colluding with
Russia during his 2016 campaign or asking former FBI Director
James Comey to drop a probe into his former national security
    * Michael Flynn and other advisers to Trump's campaign were
in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties
in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of
the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials
familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.             
    * New applications for U.S. jobless benefits unexpectedly
fell last week and the number of Americans on unemployment rolls
tumbled to a 28-1/2-year low, pointing to rapidly shrinking
labor market slack.             
    * Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester on
Thursday repeated her call for further U.S.-interest rate hikes
now that the economy has reached full employment and inflation
is nearing the Fed's 2-percent goal.             
    * European Central Bank policymakers are preparing to dial
back their extraordinary stimulus measures if the economy
continues to improve, but that course of action is not yet
certain, comments by three ECB rate setters and accounts of the
latest meeting showed on Thursday.             
    * Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.14 percent to 850.71
tonnes on Thursday.                  
    * Mali exported 67 tonnes of gold in 2016, down from 70.2
tonnes in 2015, due to a slight drop in production from
small-scale artisanal miners, the country's national statistics
institute said on Thursday.             
    * Commerzbank           is to close its physical precious
metals business next year, a source with direct knowledge of the
matter said on Thursday.             
    0600  Germany producer prices                Apr 
    0800  Euro zone current account              Mar 
    1400  Euro zone consumer confidence          May 

 (Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; Editing by
Amrutha Gayathri)