PRECIOUS-Gold prices flat as dollar steady ahead of Fed speech

    BENGALURU, July 17 (Reuters) - Gold prices were steady early
on Tuesday as the U.S. dollar remained largely unchanged ahead
of the U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's first
congressional testimony.  
    * Spot gold        was steady at $1,239.60 an ounce at 0039
GMT, while U.S. gold futures         for August delivery were
unchanged at $1,239.70 an ounce.    
    * The dollar index       , which measures the greenback
versus a basket of six major currencies, was little changed at
    * The Fed's Powell takes his upbeat view of the U.S. economy
to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, with markets and many of his
colleagues expecting two more interest rate increases this year
amid a continued economic expansion.             
    * But the narrowing gap between yields on long-term and
short-term Treasury bonds to little more than the equivalent of
one rate hike from the Fed has helped sour at least one U.S.
central banker on any further interest rates
    * U.S. retail sales rose solidly in June as households
boosted purchases of automobiles and a range of other goods,
cementing expectations for robust economic growth in the second
    * Standing side by side with Vladimir Putin, U.S. President
Donald Trump refused on Monday to blame the Russian leader for
meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, casting doubt on the
findings of his own intelligence agencies and sparking a storm
of criticism at home.             
    * The United States in certain cases will consider waivers
for countries that need more time to wind down imports of oil
from Iran as it seeks to avoid disrupting global oil markets
while reimposing sanctions against Tehran, U.S. Treasury
Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.             
    * Escalating and sustained trade conflicts following U.S.
tariff actions threaten to derail economic recovery and depress
medium-term growth prospects, the International Monetary Fund
warned on Monday.             
    * British Prime Minister Theresa May won a series of votes
in parliament on Monday, keeping her over-arching strategy to
leave the European Union just about on track after bowing to
pressure from Brexit supporters in her party.             
    * The euro zone's surplus for goods traded with the rest of
the world dropped in May as exports fell and imports increased,
one month before U.S. tariffs on European steel and aluminium
kicked in, official data showed on Monday.             
    * A strike by workers at Randgold Resources'         Tongon
gold mine in Ivory Coast brought production to a halt on Monday
as government-led negotiations broke down, the company said.
    * SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.15 percent to
794.01 tonnes on Monday.             

 (Reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru
Editing by Joseph Radford)