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Gold gains on US dollar decline as market awaits Fed rate outlook

[BENGALURU] Gold prices rose on Wednesday as the dollar fell as investors await the outcome of the US Federal Reserve's meeting this week for signs of the pace of monetary tightening, which could limit the demand for bullion going forward.

Spot gold was 0.4 per cent higher at US$1,315.84 per ounce at 0746 GMT. Prices fell to a nearly three-week low of US$1,306.91 in the previous session.

US gold futures for April delivery rose 0.27 per cent to US$1,315.40 per ounce.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, slipped 0.2 per cent to 90.195 after climbing to 90.445 on Tuesday, its highest since March 1.

With a 25 basis point interest rate hike seen as a done deal, investors will be on the lookout for whether the Fed forecasts four rate increases in 2018, instead of the median of three hikes in December's quarterly forecast.

"Dealers will be looking at forward guidance to determine the dollar's prospects, and therefore that of gold," said Alasdair Macleod, head of research with Toronto-based Goldmoney Inc.

The Fed will make an announcement on interest rates at 1800 GMT on Wednesday and new Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will hold his first news conference at 1830 GMT.

The expectations for a faster pace of US rate hikes have caused gold to fall 4 per cent from a 1-1/2-year high reached in January.

Higher US interest rates reduces demand for gold for non-interest-bearing bullion.

Heightened geo-political tensions, inflation concerns, trade wars and runaway US budget deficit spending should serve to counteract the well-expected Fed rate hike and keep the floor on gold prices intact, Stephen Innes, APAC trading head at OANDA said.

Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, holdings rose 1.26 per cent, their best one-day per centage rise since Jan. 18, to 850.84 tonnes on Monday.

SPDR holdings, however, fell 0.04 per cent on Tuesday.

US President Donald Trump is expected to unveil up to US$60 billion in import duties on Chinese goods by Friday. The move comes after Mr Trump imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminium earlier this month.

Investors are worried Mr Trump's actions could escalate into a trade war if China and other countries retaliate with similar or harsher measures, threatening global growth.

Among other precious metals, both spot silver and platinum were up 0.5 per cent, at US$16.27 per ounce and US$944.90 per ounce, respectively.

Palladium rose 0.2 per cent at US$980.50 per ounce.