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. FUNDAMENTALS * 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 94.540. * 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 increases. * 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 quarter. * 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)
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