PRECIOUS-Gold drops to lowest in nearly 7 weeks; stronger dollar, equities weigh

    Oct 2 (Reuters) - Gold slipped to its lowest in nearly seven
weeks early on Monday as the U.S. dollar rose and equities
gained, while growing expectations for a Federal Reserve
interest rate hike in December also dragged on prices.    
    * Spot gold        was down 0.2 percent at $1,276.47 an
ounce by 0042 GMT, after earlier touching its lowest since mid-
August at $1273.90.
    * The metal recorded its biggest monthly decline so far this
year in September.
    * U.S. gold futures         for December delivery shed 0.5
percent to $1,278.90 per ounce. 
    * MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
                was up 0.2 percent.              
    * The dollar edged up 0.1 percent against a basket of major
currencies        and gained 0.2 percent versus the yen       .
    * U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday dismissed the
prospect of talks with North Korea as a waste of time a day
after his own secretary of state said the United States was
maintaining open lines of communication with North Korean leader
Kim Jong Un.             
    * The United States said on Saturday it was directly
communicating with North Korea on its nuclear and missile
programmes but Pyongyang had shown no interest in dialogue.
    * U.S. President Donald Trump is ramping up his search for a
new chief for the U.S. central bank, promising a decision next
    * Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said Friday he
still has "pencilled in" an interest rate hike in December, and
three more rate hikes next year, in line with most of his
colleagues at the central bank.             
    * U.S. consumer spending barely rose in August likely as
Hurricane Harvey weighed on auto sales, while annual inflation
increased at its slowest pace in nearly two years, pointing to a
moderation in economic growth in the third quarter.             
    * Euro zone inflation undershot expectations in September,
Eurostat data showed on Friday, highlighting that price growth
remained week and supporting the European Central Bank's case
for only gradual removal of stimulus.             
    * Britain's economy grew at its slowest pace since 2013 in
the 12 months after last year's Brexit vote, data showed on
Friday, painting a subdued picture as the Bank of England
prepares to raise interest rates for the first time in a decade.

    0750   France Final manufacturing PMI         Sep
    0755   Germany Final manufacturing PMI        Sep
    0800   Euro zone Final manufacturing PMI      Sep
    0830   U.K. Manufacturing PMI                 Sep
    0900   Euro zone Unemployment rate            Aug 
    1345   U.S. Markit final manufacturing PMI     Sep 
    1400   U.S. ISM manufacturing activity index  Sep 
    1400   U.S. Construction spending             Aug

 (Reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph