February 22, 2017 / 1:22 AM / a year ago

PRECIOUS-Gold prices steady as investors look for rate hike clues from Fed

    Feb 22 (Reuters) - Gold held firm on Wednesday after falling
as much as 1 percent the session before, with investors waiting
for minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting for clues on
the timing of interest rate hikes.
    * Spot gold        was steady at $1,236 per ounce at 0054
GMT, while U.S. gold futures         fell 0.1 percent to $1,237.
    * Data showed the U.S. Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was
at 53.9 in February, down from 55.6 in January and expectations
for 55.8.             
    * Traders are focused on the release of minutes from the
Fed's Jan. 30-Feb. 1 meeting, due on Wednesday at 1900 GMT.
    * San Francisco Fed President John Williams warned Tuesday
that the global drop in interest rates since the financial
crisis is likely to persist and will make it harder for central
banks to keep world economies healthy.             
    * Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker suggested he
would support an interest rate increase at a mid-March policy
meeting as long as inflation, output and other data until then
continue to show the U.S. economy is growing.             
    * Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari on said the U.S.
labour market has "more room to run", suggesting he does not
believe the central bank should raise rates quickly to head off
    * Also on the radar is President Donald Trump's address to
Congress on Feb. 28, which analysts and traders hope will offer
details on infrastructure spending and tax cuts.
    * Bank of England Governor Mark Carney faced a challenge
from lawmakers on Tuesday over the way the BoE changed one of
its fundamental assumptions about Britain's economy, which helps
it justify keeping interest rates at a record low.             
    * The likelihood of more monetary stimulus in Japan is
diminishing, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
    * Switzerland's gold exports hit a 10-month low in January,
data from the Swiss customs bureau showed on Tuesday, as
shipments to China and Hong Kong fell to their lowest since
    * AngloGold Ashanti          lifted force majeure on its
Ghanaian Obuasi mine on Tuesday after the removal of thousands
of illegal miners, but said it was too early to determine the
extent of damage to the loss-making, mothballed operation.
      0130  China      House prices           Jan 
      0900  Germany   Ifo business climate    Feb  
      0930  Britain   GDP 2nd release         Q4 
      1500  U.S.      Existing home sales     Jan 
      1900  Minutes of Federal Reserve's Jan. 31-Feb. 1 meeting 

 (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph
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