PRECIOUS-Gold falls ahead of U.S. data-heavy week, Fed chair decision

    * Dollar headed toward second straight monthly gain
    * Spot gold on track for second monthly decline
    * GRAPHIC-2017 asset returns:

 (New throughout, updates prices, market activity and comment;
adds second byline and NEW YORK dateline)
    By Renita D. Young and Maytaal Angel
    NEW YORK/LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Gold prices fell on
Tuesday as the U.S. dollar was firm for much of the session and
precious metals investors turned cautious ahead of central bank
meetings this week, U.S. payrolls data and the announcement of
the next U.S. Federal Reserve chair.
    Spot gold        slipped 0.4 percent to $1,270.40 an ounce
by 2:40 p.m. EDT (1840 GMT), headed for a second-straight
monthly decline. 
    U.S. gold futures         for December delivery settled down
$7.20, or 0.6 percent, at $1,270.50 per ounce, a 1 percent
monthly decline. 
    The dollar was flat, initially underpinned by solid U.S.
data, but on track for its second straight monthly increase.
    The Fed started a two-day policy meeting during Tuesday's
session with speculation mounting that Trump will pick Fed
Governor Jerome Powell as the next head of the U.S. central bank
on Thursday.              
    Powell is seen as more dovish than other contenders for the
post, such as Stanford University economist John Taylor.
    "Somebody from within the Fed, even if they’re more dovish,
might be less bullish for gold, because they would be seen as
being better suited to manage monetary policy," said Jeffrey
Christian, managing partner of CPM Group in New York.
    That could result in a stronger U.S. dollar, he added, which
typically makes dollar-priced gold more expensive for holders of
other currencies.
    The Fed is scheduled to release its statement following its
meeting on Wednesday at 2 p.m. EDT.
    Market participants were awaiting the Bank of England policy
meeting on Thursday and more data, including U.S. payrolls
figures on Friday. 
    Meanwhile, global equities were heading for a record 12th
month of gains as a 5-1/2-month high in European stocks and
records elsewhere underscored one of the most robust bull
markets on record. 
    Rising equity markets usually indicate confidence in
economic growth, which reduces gold's appeal as a safe-haven
    "The market is catching its breath for what will be a very
data-heavy second half of the week," said Jeffrey Halley, a
senior market analyst with OANDA.
    "Gold itself appears to have lost any risk-aversion premium
for now and is thus completely at the mercy of the nuances of
the U.S. bond and stock market, and by default the U.S. dollar."
    Among other precious metals, silver        fell 0.7 percent
to $16.71 an ounce, but headed toward a 0.5 monthly increase.
Platinum        dipped 0.1 percent to $915.24 an ounce, though
poised for a nearly 0.8 percent monthly increase. Palladium
       climbed 1.6 percent to $980 an ounce, on track for a 4.8
percent monthly gain.

 (Additional reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru;
editing by David Goodman and David Gregorio)