PRECIOUS-Gold up as growth concerns, U.S. govt shutdown weigh on dollar

Jan 24 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged up on Thursday, supported by a softer dollar, limited demand for risky assets on the back of uncertainty over prolonged U.S. government shutdown and slowing global growth.


* Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,284.35 per ounce, as of 0118 GMT, while U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,283.80 per ounce.

* The U.S. dollar edged lower against a basket of currencies and demand for riskier assets continued to be dented on uncertainty over Sino-U.S. trade standoff, U.S. government shutdown and worries over slowing growth in global economy.

* White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said in a CNN interview the United States could see zero growth in the first three months if the partial government shutdown is extended for the whole quarter.

* U.S. economic growth will take a hit this quarter from the longest-ever government shutdown, keeping the Federal Reserve on the sidelines until at least its April 30-May 1 meeting, a Reuters poll of economists showed.

* Barclays economists said on Wednesday they reduced their outlook on U.S. economic growth in the first quarter to an annualized rate of 2.5 percent from an earlier projection of 3 percent as a result of the historically long partial federal government shutdown.

* Trump told reporters on Wednesday that the United States was doing well in trade talks and that China “very much wants to make a deal.”

* China said on Wednesday it will increase fiscal spending to support its economy this year.

* Investor focus turned to the European Central Bank (ECB), which is widely expected to stay on hold at its first monetary policy meeting of 2019 that ends later on Thursday.

* Market watchers also expect ECB to acknowledge growing threats to the euro zone economy.

* The ECB’s meeting will come a day after the Bank of Japan cut its inflation forecasts on Wednesday, but maintained its massive stimulus programme, with Governor Haruhiko Kuroda warning of growing risks to the economy from trade protectionism and faltering global demand.

* Meanwhile, the United States on Wednesday rejected a move by Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro to break diplomatic ties, saying it did not think he had the authority to cut ties and it would conduct relations with a government led by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

* Societe Generale on Wednesday raised its gold price forecast for 2019 to $1,325 per ounce from $1,275 per ounce earlier.

* Holdings of SPDR Gold, the largest gold-based ETF, was at its highest since June 2018. (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Pullin and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)