Jan 31 (Reuters) - Gold prices on Thursday held near eight-month highs hit in the previous session after the U.S. Federal Reserve signalled a potential end to its monetary tightening cycle, and the bullion was heading for its fourth straight monthly gain.
* Spot gold was steady at $1,319.87 per ounce by 0042 GMT. Prices rose to their highest since May 11 at $1,323.34 on Wednesday. U.S. gold futures were up 0.7 percent at $1,319.30 per ounce.
* Spot gold has risen 2.8 percent so far this month.
* The Fed held U.S. interest rates steady on Wednesday but said it would be patient in lifting borrowing costs further this year as it pointed to rising uncertainty about the economic outlook.
* The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, fell after the Fed’s cautious statement.
* Gold tends to rise on expectations of lower interest rates, which reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, hurting the demand for the U.S. dollar in which the metal is priced.
* U.S. and China opened a pivotal round of high-level talks on Wednesday aimed at digging out from their months-long trade war amid deep differences over Chinese practices over intellectual property and technology transfer.
* Investors are worried that Washington’s pursual of a criminal case against Chinese company Huawei and its chief financial officer could hurt the talks.
* Meanwhile, U.S. private payrolls increased solidly in January, pointing to sustained labor market strength despite a recent easing in consumer and business confidence that has suggested a loss of momentum in the economy.
* Asia stocks tracked a rally on Wall Street and rose to a four-month high on Thursday after the Federal Reserve struck a dovish tone.
* Spot gold has gained nearly 14 percent since hitting more than 1-1/2-year lows in August, mostly due to tumultuous stock markets and on expectations that the Fed could pause its multi-year-rate hike cycle.
* Underscoring investor interest in gold, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, were at their highest since June.
* SPDR gold holdings have climbed 4.6 percent so far this month, the biggest monthly gain since September 2017.
* The White House warned traders on Wednesday not to deal in Venezuelan gold or oil following its imposition of stiff sanctions aimed at forcing socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power.
* Two of the world’s largest precious metals refiners, Valcambi and Asahi, are separately bidding for the assets of their bankrupt Miami-based rival Republic Metals Corporation (RMC), two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Shreejay Sinha)