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PRECIOUS-Gold holds below 2-week high as investors await Fed decision

    March 17 (Reuters) - Gold prices steadied below last
session's two-week high on Wednesday as the dollar stood firm,
with investors eyeing the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's
two-day meeting for its outlook on economy.
    
    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold        was little changed at $1,730.82 per ounce
by 0127 GMT, having risen to $1,740.90 in the last session, its
highest since March 1.   
    * U.S. gold futures        fell about 0.1% to $1,729.60 per
ounce.
    * A spate of volatility in money markets has stoked
speculation that the U.S. central bank may be forced into a
technical adjustment to the levers controlling its benchmark
interest rate to ensure that it does not fall too low, but few
expect it to act on the matter at this week's meeting.
            
    * Asian stocks were set to open mostly lower following a
sell-off in U.S. stocks.                 
    * U.S. retail sales fell more than expected in February amid
cold weather across the country, but a rebound is likely as the
government disburses another round of pandemic relief money.
            
    * Nornickel          , the world's largest palladium
producer and a leading nickel producer, expects its 2021 nickel,
copper, platinum and palladium output to fall 15%-20% short of
original outlook due to waterlogging at two Siberian mines.
            
    * Palladium jumped about 5% and scaled to a one-year high of
$2,520.31 in the preceding session.
    * One of the world's biggest gold refiners said on Tuesday
it had developed a way to quickly confirm where gold had been
mined, potentially stopping illegal gold from entering supply
chains.             ]
    * Silver        fell 0.7% to $25.77, platinum        slid
0.5% to $1,206 and palladium        slipped 0.2% to $2,494.05
    
    DATA/EVENTS (GMT)
1000  EU  HICP Final MM, YY      Feb
1230  US  Housing Starts Number  Feb 
1800  US  Federal Open Market Committee announces 
          its decision on interest rates followed by statement

 (Reporting by Eileen Soreng and Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru;
editing by Uttaresh.V)
  
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