Dec 12 (Reuters) - Gold was slightly higher in early trade on Tuesday, having shed half a percent in the previous session, ahead of the start of a two-day Federal Reserve meeting in the United States. FUNDAMENTALS * Spot gold was up about 0.1 percent at $1,242.72 an ounce by 0049 GMT, after losing 0.5 percent on Monday. * U.S. gold futures were 0.2 percent lower at $1,244.40. * The dollar index , which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was little changed at 93.925. The dollar was unchanged at 113.56 yen * Asian shares were trying to string together a fourth session of gains on Tuesday as optimism about global growth looked set to outlast an almost certain hike in U.S. borrowing costs this week. * U.S. President Donald Trump will deliver a speech on the plan to overhaul the nation's tax code on Wednesday, the White House said on Monday. * Incoming Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell appears set to let an expected trillion-dollar tax cut run its course through the economy as weak wage growth and inflation buttress his view that the economy remains underpowered. * The European Union needs to consider regulating bitcoin, European Central Bank ratesetter Ewald Nowotny said on Monday, citing the risk of money laundering. * Newly launched bitcoin futures on Monday suggested that traders expect the cryptocurrency's blistering price gains to slow in the coming months, even as it blasted above $17,000 to a fresh record high in the spot market. * Prime Minister Theresa May hailed "a new sense of optimism" in Brexit talks, telling parliament on Monday an agreement to move negotiations on to future trade ties would reassure those concerned Britain may leave with no deal. DATA/EVENT AHEAD (GMT) 1000 Germany ZEW economic sentiment Dec 1100 U.S. NFIB business optimism Nov U.S. Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee starts its two-day meeting on interest rates (Reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru)
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