PRECIOUS-Gold prices up; focus on pick for U.S. Fed chair

    Nov 2 (Reuters) - Gold prices held onto gains early on
Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve left interest rates
unchanged on Wednesday, and as investors awaited an announcement
on a new chair for the central bank later in the day.
    * Spot gold        was up 0.3 percent to $1,277.76 per ounce
at 0047 GMT. 
    * U.S. gold futures         for December delivery edged up
0.1 percent to $1,278.60.   
    * The dollar index       , which tracks the greenback
against a basket of six major rivals, was down 0.2 percent to
    * The Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged on
Wednesday and pointed to solid U.S. economic growth and a
strengthening labor market while playing down the impact of
recent hurricanes, a sign it is on track to lift borrowing costs
again in December.             
    * Asian shares advanced after the Fed expressed optimism
about the economy, virtually cementing the case for a year-end
rate hike as investors awaited the formal nomination of the next
head of the central bank.            
    * U.S. President Donald Trump plans to nominate current Fed
Governor Jerome Powell as the next chair of the U.S. central
bank, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
    * Rising expectations that President Trump will tap Powell,
who is seen as more dovish on interest rates, have pressured
U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar this week.
    * The U.S. economy unexpectedly maintained a brisk pace of
growth in the third quarter as an increase in inventory
investment and a smaller trade deficit offset a
hurricane-related slowdown in consumer spending and a decline in
    * Traders also awaited Donald Trump's tax plan, which
Republicans plan to release Thursday morning.             
    * Holdings of the SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.14 percent to 849.59
tonnes on Wednesday.          
    * The Perth Mint's sales of gold products fell 3.87 percent
in October from a month earlier, while silver sales rose about
43 percent, the mint said in a blog post on its website on
    * South African precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater
SGLJ.J confirmed on Wednesday that it had laid off more than
2,000 gold miners as it shuts its loss-making Cooke shafts where
illegal mining syndicates have plagued its operations.
    0900  Euro Zone   Markit Mfg Final PMI    Oct
    1130  U.S.        Challenger Layoffs      Oct
    1230  U.S.        Initial Jobless Claims  weekly

 (Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Michael