PRECIOUS-Gold set for second weekly loss as firmer dollar dents appeal

Sept 17 (Reuters) - Gold prices were set for a second weekly loss as a firmer dollar dented the metal's allure for holders of other currencies while investors await a key U.S. Federal Reserve meeting for clues on how soon the central bank will start to taper stimulus.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold was flat at $1,754.86 per ounce, as of 0037 GMT on Friday.

* Bullion slipped as much as 2.7% on Thursday, and dropped 1.8% so far this week.

* U.S. gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,755.00.

* The dollar held near three-week highs against a basket of major currencies after a raft of strong U.S. economic data rekindled expectations for earlier policy tightening by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

* U.S. retail sales unexpectedly increased in August, likely tempering expectations for a sharp slowdown in economic growth in the third quarter.

* The Federal Open Market Committee's two-day policy meeting is due to be held on Sept. 21-22 and could provide clues as to when the U.S. central bank will start withdrawing its asset purchases.

* Reduced central bank stimulus tends to lift bond yields, which raises the opportunity cost of holding non-interest bearing gold. It also helps boost the dollar, further weighing on bullion.

* Economists in a Reuters poll pushed their expectations back to November for when the U.S. Federal Reserve could began tapering, as surging Delta variant cases likely derailed an economic recovery in the third quarter.

* European Central Bank chief economist Philip Lane revealed in a private meeting with German economists that it expects to hit its 2% inflation goal by 2025, the Financial Times said on Thursday.

* Bullion is often viewed as a hedge against inflation.

* Silver was flat at $22.93 per ounce, after hitting its lowest in more than a month on Thursday.

* Platinum rose 0.6% to $938.88, while palladium dipped 0.1% to $2,032.31. DATA/EVENTS (GMT) 0600 UK Retail Sales MM, YY Aug 1400 US U Mich Sentiment Prelim Sept (Reporting by Nakul Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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