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Gold prices steady after Fed minutes

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[BENGALURU] Gold prices were largely unchanged on Friday as the dollar inched down and after minutes of the US Federal Reserve June policy meeting were in line with market expectations for further interest rate increases this year.

Market participants were also keeping a close eye on festering trade conflict between the United States and China, ahead of a US deadline to impose tariffs on Chinese imports on Friday. US jobs data later in the day was in focus as well.

Spot gold was little changed at US$1,257.24 an ounce at 0045 GMT. The metal was headed for its first weekly rise in four, up 0.3 per cent for the week. US gold futures for August delivery were 0.04 per cent lower at US$1,258.30 an ounce.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was down 0.1 per cent at 94.371. In the previous session, it slipped to its lowest since June 26 at 94.177.

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US central bankers discussed whether recession lurked around the corner and expressed concerns global trade tensions could hit an economy that by most measures looked strong, minutes of the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting on June 12-13 released on Thursday showed.

The minutes, which described a meeting in which the Fed raised interest rates for the second time this year, also suggested policymakers might soon signal the central bank's rate-hiking cycle was advanced enough that policy was no longer boosting or constraining the economy.

President Donald Trump said on Thursday the United States may ultimately impose tariffs on more than a half-trillion dollars' worth of Chinese goods as the world's two largest economies hurtled toward the start of a trade war. The United States is due to begin collecting tariffs on US$34 billion in Chinese goods at 0401 GMT on Friday.

Investors watching the trade tit-for-tat between the US and China may well have reason to fear the havoc a full blown conflict between the world's two biggest economies could wreak on the global economy.

US services sector activity picked up in June amid strong growth in new orders, but trade tariffs and a shortage of workers were starting to strain the supply chain, which could slow momentum in the coming months.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday she would back lowering European Union tariffs on US car imports, responding to an offer from Washington to abandon threatened levies on European cars in return for concessions.

Japan's banks should adapt to the challenges of a declining population and the rise of financial technology, with the discussion of these structural problems kept separate from monetary policy, a Bank of Japan board member said on Thursday.

REUTERS