PRECIOUS-Gold steady as China-U.S. trade tensions escalate

    BENGALURU, April 4 (Reuters) - Gold prices were steady in
early Asian trade on Wednesday as the dollar eased amid
escalating trade tensions between the United States and China.
    * Spot gold        was unchanged at $1,332.55 per ounce as
of 0041 GMT, after falling 0.6 percent in the previous session.
    * U.S. gold futures         eased 0.1 percent to $1,336.30
an ounce.
    * The dollar index       , which measures the greenback
against six other major currencies, was down 0.1 percent at
    * The Trump administration on Tuesday raised the stakes in a
growing trade showdown with China, announcing 25 percent tariffs
on some 1,300 industrial technology, transport and medical
products to try to force changes in Beijing's intellectual
property practices.             
    * China's commerce ministry said on Wednesday it "strongly
condemns and firmly opposes" the proposed U.S. tariffs following
the Section 301 probe and will take counter measures, according
to the official Xinhua news agency.             
    * The Perth Mint's sales of gold products rose about 13
percent in March from a month earlier, while month-on-month
silver sales fell for a second month in a row, the mint said in
a blog post on its website on Tuesday.             
    *  The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has dropped Axis Bank
          from a list of banks it has cleared to import gold and
silver in the current financial year that began on April 1, in
the latest setback for the country's third-biggest private
sector lender.             
    * Sberbank CIB, an arm of Russia's largest lender          ,
plans to more than double its gold sales to India this year and
sell more gold than forecast to China, while keeping gold
purchases in Russia flat, its head of global markets said.
    * The Modikwa platinum mine in South Africa has halted
production after six workers en route to the operation were
burnt to death in a petrol bomb attack on a bus, a spokeswoman
for African Rainbow Minerals (ARM)          said on Tuesday.
    * Randgold Resources Ltd         said intermittent
industrial action by workforce of its mining subcontractor was
having some impact on operations at its Tongon gold mine.
    0145  China       Caixin services PMI        March
    0900  Euro zone   Unemployment rate          February
    1215  U.S.        ADP national employment    March
    1400  U.S.        Factory orders             February
    1400  U.S.        ISM non-manufacturing PMI  March​

 (Reporting by Swati Verma in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu