February 23, 2017 / 1:30 AM / 6 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold prices steady as U.S. dollar firms

    Feb 23 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady on Thursday as
the U.S. dollar firmed following overnight losses after the
release of minutes from the last U.S. Federal Reserve meeting,
which suggested a cautious approach to interest rate hikes.
            
    FUNDAMENTALS    
   * Spot gold        had crept down 0.1 percent to $1,236.30
per ounce at 0109 GMT, while U.S. gold futures         rose 0.4
percent to $1,237.6.
   * Many Fed policymakers said it may be appropriate to raise
interest rates again "fairly soon" should jobs and inflation
data come in line with expectations, according to the minutes of
the Fed's last policy meeting.
    * The minutes of the Jan. 31-Feb. 1 discussion also showed
the depth of uncertainty at the Fed over the lack of clarity on
the new Trump administration's economic programme.             
    * Asian stocks pulled back from a 19-month high on Thursday,
while the dollar tried to steady from losses suffered in the
wake of the Fed minutes. The dollar index        was up 0.1
percent at 101.37.
    * Stock market optimism about U.S. President Donald Trump's
economic agenda is overdone and political risk in Europe isn't
priced in, according to some hedge funds who are betting that
the rally in equities is coming to an end.             
    * Veteran French centrist Francois Bayrou said on Wednesday
he was offering an alliance with independent candidate Emmanuel
Macron, a move that could give the former investment banker a
much-needed boost to reach the runoff in May's presidential
election.             
    * More than 20 percent of UK consumers are worried about the
impact of Brexit on their spending plans over the next year,
according to a report published by PwC on Thursday.             
    * Euro zone inflation rose to an annual rate of 1.8 percent
in January, the European Union statistics agency said on
Wednesday confirming its earlier estimates.             
    * Holdings of the largest gold-backed exchange-traded-fund
(ETF), New York's SPDR Gold Trust      , remained unchanged on
Tuesday from Friday.           
    
    
    DATA AHEAD (GMT)
    0700 Germany    Detailed GDP              Q4
    0700 Germany    GfK consumer sentiment    Mar
    0745 France     Business climate          Feb
    1330 U.S.       Weekly jobless claims 
    1330 U.S.       National activity index   Jan
    1400 U.S.       Monthly home price index  Dec


 (Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph
Radford)
  

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