PRECIOUS-Gold steady as firm dollar offsets rise in virus cases

    * Dollar index firms after strong U.S. data
    * Tensions simmer between North and South Korea
    * Trial shows generic steroid reduces COVID-19 death rates

 (Updates prices)
    By Brijesh Patel
    June 17 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady on Wednesday,
supported by concerns stemming from a surge in coronavirus
infections in Beijing but with hopes for a potential COVID-19
drug and a stronger U.S. dollar limiting their advance.
    Spot gold        was flat at $1,727.26 per ounce by 0717
GMT, holding a tight $6 narrow range. U.S. gold futures       
were mostly unchanged at $1,736.60.
    "The attention remains elsewhere, mostly equity markets.
However, COVID-19 nerves as Beijing shutdowns extend should
offer support on any dips," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market
analyst at OANDA.
    Beijing officials reported several new COVID-19 cases for
the sixth consecutive day, while new infections hit record highs
in six U.S. states on Tuesday.                          
    Offsetting upwards pressure on gold, the dollar        rose
0.1% against its rivals, making the metal more expensive for
holders of other currencies.       
    A record increase in U.S. retail sales in May supported
views the U.S. recession might be drawing to an end, with upbeat
trial results for a COVID-19 treatment further aiding investor
    Geopolitical tensions and additional stimulus measures from
global central banks also offered some support to bullion, which
is often used as a safe store of value during times of political
and financial uncertainty.
    India reported 20 of its soldiers had been killed in clashes
with Chinese troops at a disputed border site, while tensions
between North and South Korea simmered after North Korea blew up
a joint liaison office set up as part of a 2018 peace agreement.
    "On the one hand, we have geopolitical flashpoints igniting
all over the map. On the other, the U.S. dollar is more robust
and competing for those same safe-haven flows," AxiCorp's chief
market strategist Stephen Innes said.
    Elsewhere, palladium        dropped 0.5% to $1,921.50 per
ounce, platinum        lost 0.5% to $816.64, while silver       
was steady at $17.41.

 (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by
Uttaresh.V, Krishna Chandra Eluri and Jan Harvey)