PRECIOUS-Gold slightly higher ahead of Fed meeting

    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.
    * 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
    * 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.

    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)