PRECIOUS-Gold edges higher as dollar eases, equities rally pauses

April 4 (Reuters) - Gold prices inched up on Thursday as the dollar eased and a rally in equities paused, while investors kept a close watch on Sino-U.S. trade talks.


* Spot gold gained 0.2 percent to $1,291.90 per ounce by 0100 GMT.

* U.S. gold futures were up 0.1 percent at $1,296.30 an ounce.

* Asian shares paused near an eight-month peak as investors awaited developments on trade talks between the United States and China, who appear closer to signing a deal.

* The dollar was down about 0.1 percent against key rivals, hovering close to its lowest level in a week posted in the previous session.

* Trade talks between the United States and China made “good headway” last week in Beijing and the two sides aim to bridge differences during talks that could extend beyond three days this week, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said.

* An escalation of the U.S.-China trade war would drive manufacturing away from both countries and likely cause job losses, but would not change their total trade balances, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report showed on Wednesday.

* U.S. services sector activity hit a more than 19-month low in March and private payrolls grew less than expected, underscoring a loss of momentum in the economy that supports the Federal Reserve’s move to suspend interest rate hikes this year.

* Activity in China’s services sector picked up to a 14-month high in March as demand improved at home and abroad, a private business survey showed on Wednesday, adding to signs that government stimulus policies are gradually kicking in.

* Business activity across the euro zone was lethargic last month, according to a survey which suggested a downturn in manufacturing is gradually infecting the bloc’s dominant services industry.

* The lower house of the British parliament on Wednesday approved legislation which would force Prime Minister Theresa May to seek a Brexit delay to prevent a potentially disorderly departure on April 12 without a deal.

* SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.5 percent to 764.29 tonnes on Wednesday.

DATA AHEAD (GMT) 0600 Germany New orders (Feb) 1230 U.S. Initial Jobless claims weekly 1130 The European Central Bank publishes its account of the latest monetary policy meeting of the Governing Council, held on March 6-7. (Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)