PRECIOUS-Gold holds steady near 2-1/2-week high as dollar dips

    Feb 15 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady on Thursday, near
the 2-1/2-week high hit in the previous session, supported by a
weaker dollar and as investors bet on higher U.S. inflation
after a faster-than-expected rise in consumer prices last month.
    * Spot gold        inched up 0.1 percent to $1,351.96 an
ounce, as of 0202 GMT. The bullion touched $1,355.50 on
Wednesday, its highest since Jan. 26.
    * It also recorded its biggest one-day percentage gain of
1.6 percent, strongest since May 2017, in the previous session.
    * U.S. gold futures         were down 0.2 percent to $1,355
per ounce.
    * The dollar index against a basket of currencies        was
slightly lower at 88.980 after losing 0.6 percent overnight.
    * The recovery in broader risk sentiment was seen weighing
on the dollar, which had gained during the market turmoil
earlier in the month.       
    * U.S. consumer prices rose more than expected in January as
Americans paid more for gasoline, rental accommodation and
    * Inflation fears can prompt investors to buy the precious
metal, although a rise in interest rates makes non-yielding gold
less attractive.
    * The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that U.S. retail
sales decreased 0.3 percent last month, the largest decline
since February 2017, as households cut back on purchases of
motor vehicles and building materials.             
    * Euro zone industrial production rose 0.4 percent
month-on-month for a 5.2 percent year-on-year gain, data from
the EU statistics office Eurostat showed on Wednesday,
underlining the fastest economic growth rate in a decade that
economists expect to continue in 2018.             
    * Asian stocks gained on Thursday after Wall Street brushed
aside strong U.S. inflation data.             
    * Barrick Gold Corp          reported adjusted
fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday in line with market
expectations and forecast gold production dropping over the next
four years with mining costs seen flat to higher.             
    * New York-based Paulson & Co, led by longtime gold bull
John Paulson, kept its stake in gold investments during the
fourth quarter of 2017, while other heavyweights including Soros
Fund Management LLC, Jana Partners LLC and Caxton Corp all
remained unexposed to the metal.             
    * Gold Fields Ltd          will continue to evaluate and
focus on efficiency at its loss-making South African asset,
South Deep, after production fell below guidance in 2017, the
bullion miner said on Wednesday.                 

    1000  Euro zone       Eurostat trade                 Dec
    1330  U.S.            Weekly jobless claims
    1330  U.S.            Philly Fed business index      Feb
    1330  U.S.            New York Fed manufacturing     Feb
    1415  U.S.            Industrial production          Jan
    1500  U.S.            NAHB housing market index      Feb

 (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha