March 21, 2018 / 1:39 AM / 9 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold edges up as dollar dips, investors await rate hike outlook

    March 21 (Reuters) - Gold prices inched up on Wednesday as
the dollar crept lower, while investors awaited the conclusion
of U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day meet for clues on faster
monetary tightening, expecting the first rate increase of the
year later in the day.
    
    FUNDAMENTALS  
    * Spot gold        was up 0.1 percent at $1,311.72 per
ounce, as of 0118 GMT. Prices hit a nearly three-week low in the
previous session at $1,306.91.
    * U.S. gold futures         for April delivery was flat at
$1,311.60 per ounce.
    * The dollar index        against a basket of currencies was
down 0.1 percent at 90.305 after climbing to 90.445 on Tuesday, 
its highest in almost three weeks.       
    * U.S. lawmakers neared agreement on Tuesday on a massive
government spending bill that Congress hopes to pass by Friday,
as congressional leaders worked to narrow their differences on
thorny issues such as President Donald Trump's border wall.
            
    * The world's financial leaders rejected protectionism on
Tuesday and urged "further dialogue" on trade, but failed to
diffuse the threat of a trade war days before U.S. metals
tariffs take effect and Washington is to announce measures
against China.              
    * Voicing hopes that Beijing and the United States could
avoid a trade war, Premier Li Keqiang told the close of the
annual parliament session that China would open its economy
further, so that foreign and Chinese firms can compete on an
equal footing.             
    * British inflation was weaker than expected in February as
the impact of the 2016 Brexit vote faded from the figures,
easing some of the squeeze on consumers who have seen their pay
rise more slowly than prices.             
    * Investment bank Goldman Sachs downgraded its forecasts for
India's economy on Tuesday in the wake of a more than $2 billion
fraud at Punjab National Bank          , warning it could spark
tighter regulation of the banking sector that would constrain
credit growth.             
    * SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.04 percent to
850.54 tonnes on Tuesday from 850.84 tonnes on Monday. 
            
    * Russia's gold reserves stood at 60.5 million troy ounces
at the beginning of March, the central bank said on Tuesday.
            
    
    DATA AHEAD (IN GMT)
    
    1230  U.S. Current account                      Q4
    1400  U.S. Existing home sales                  Feb
    1400  U.S. Existing home sales pct change       Feb
    1800  U.S. Fed Funds Target Price              


 (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry
Jacob-Phillips)
  
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