REFILE-PRECIOUS-Gold litle changed amid firm dollar

 (Corrects dateline)
    Dec 11 (Reuters) - Gold prices were steady early on Monday,
holding above a four-month low hit last week, amid a firm
    * Spot gold        was nearly unchanged at $1,247.80 an
ounce by 0045 GMT, after hitting its lowest since July 26 at
$1,243.71 on Dec. 7.    
    * U.S. gold futures         were 0.1 percent higher at
    * The dollar was steady in early Asian trade on Monday,
underpinned by expectations of higher U.S. interest rates, while
bitcoin seized the spotlight as futures of the cryptocurrency
began trading.                    
    * Republican U.S. Senator Susan Collins, whose support was
crucial in passing the Senate tax reform bill earlier this
month, said on Sunday she has not yet decided whether she will
back the final measure negotiated by House and Senate leaders.
    * U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday signed legislation
to fund the federal government for two weeks, giving
congressional negotiators more time to work out budget
priorities through next September and other thorny policy
    * A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli security guard at
Jerusalem's main bus station on Sunday, police said, and
violence flared near the U.S. Embassy in Beirut over U.S.
President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's
    * The United States, Japan and South Korea will hold two
days of missile tracking drills starting on Monday, Japan's
Maritime Self-Defence Force said, as tensions rise in the region
over North Korea's fast-developing weapons programmes.
    * U.S. job growth increased at a strong clip in November,
painting a portrait of a healthy economy that analysts say does
not require the kind of fiscal stimulus that President Donald
Trump is proposing, even though wage gains remain moderate.             
    * Britain and the European Union struck a divorce deal on
Friday that paves the way for arduous talks on future trade
ties, easing immediate pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May
and boosting hopes of an orderly Brexit.             
    * Hedge funds and money managers sharply reduced their net
long positions in COMEX gold and silver contracts in the week to
Dec. 5, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data
showed on Friday.        

     1500  U.S.              Employment trends          Nov

 (Reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Biju