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PRECIOUS-Gold falls on firm dollar as focus turns to Powell speech

    * Dollar index up 0.2%
    * U.S. consumer confidence hits six-year low 
    * Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus:
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tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser

 (Updates prices)
    By Diptendu Lahiri
    Aug 26 (Reuters) - Gold prices fell on Wednesday as the
dollar gained while investors waited for U.S. Federal Reserve
Chairman Jerome Powell's speech for a snapshot of the central
bank's monetary plan to revive the pandemic-hit U.S. economy.
    Spot gold        was down 0.6% at $1,915.61 an ounce by 1203
GMT. U.S. gold futures         eased by 0.1% to $1,921.40.
    The dollar index <.DXY > was up 0.2%, making bullion more
expensive for those holding other currencies, with the spotlight
on Powell's address at Jackson Hole on Thursday, when he is set
to offer more insight on the U.S. central bank's strategy on
inflation and monetary policy.       
    "The firmer dollar is weighing on gold ... Though investors
are watching out for Powell's speech, they've mostly factored it
into gold prices already. The U.S. cannot raise interest rates
and lowering them also doesn't look likely," said Michael
Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
    "The Fed might take an unconventional measure, like more
stimulus ... As long as social distancing is in place, the
economy cannot rebound and that will keep supporting gold until 
the year-end."
    Weighing further on gold, optimism over U.S.-China trade
relations boosted appeal for riskier assets.            
    Nonetheless, gold's outlook remained strong as buyers sought
a buffer against potential inflation and currency debasement
owing to central bank stimulus and near-zero global interest
rates. 
    The safe-haven metal is up 27% this year.
    "There are still a lot of concerns about the economy and
they continue to indicate that rates are going be low and
stimulus measures will continue, which should boost gold," said
ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes.
    Adding to doubts over an economic rebound from the
coronavirus crisis, a survey from the Conference Board showed
that U.S. consumer confidence hit a six-year low in August.
            
    In other precious metals, silver        dipped 0.5% to
$26.31 an ounce, platinum        dropped 1.4% to $914.20 and
palladium        was down 0.4% at $2,156.53. 

 (Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru
Editing by David Evans and David Goodman
)
  
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