PRECIOUS-Gold steady ahead of U.S. jobs data

    Oct 5 (Reuters) - Gold prices were little changed early on
Thursday as the dollar held firm on strong U.S. services sector
growth, with markets awaiting the key U.S. non-farm payrolls
report on Friday.    
    * Spot gold        was unchanged at $1,274 an ounce at 0055
    * U.S. gold futures         for December delivery were flat
at $1,276.90 per ounce. 
    * The dollar inched up against a basket of peers on Thursday
after data shed more positive light on the U.S. economy,
although sagging Treasury yields tempered the greenback's
    * Asian shares were a tad firmer on Thursday, taking their
cues from strong U.S. data although holiday-thinned trade and
uncertainty about the impact of recent hurricanes on the U.S.
economy are likely to keep investors cautious.            
    * The pace of growth in the U.S. services sector accelerated
in September to its fastest in 12 years, led by stronger new
orders and employment, according to an industry report released
on Wednesday.             
    * U.S. companies scaled back their hiring to an 11-month low
in September after two powerful hurricanes disrupted some
business activities.             
    * The U.S. budget deficit is proving to be a major obstacle
to the tax reform plan being offered by President Donald Trump
and top congressional Republicans, with one leading Senate hawk
saying a week after the plan was introduced that any enlarging
of the fiscal gap could kill his support.             
    * Any new head of the Federal Reserve will need to have the
"flexibility of mind" to change tack during acute periods of
crisis, the U.S. central bank's outgoing Vice-Chairman Stanley
Fischer said on Wednesday.             
    * Austrian central bank chief Ewald Nowotny has said the
European Central Bank should tighten monetary policy gently,
avoiding abrupt changes, three weeks before the policymakers
decide whether to slow asset buys from next year.             
    * Business across the euro zone grew rapidly in September as
firms struggled to keep up with demand, a survey showed on
Wednesday, with October looking likely to be lively as well.
     1230  U.S.       International trade                  Aug 
     1230  U.S.       Weekly jobless claims 
     1400  U.S.       Factory orders                       Aug 

 (Reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonali