March 15, 2017 / 1:08 AM / 10 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold prices firm ahead of Fed announcement

    March 15 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady on Wednesday
ahead of the outcome of a two-day Federal Reserve meeting, with
the U.S. central bank widely expected to raise interest rates.
    * Spot gold        had edged up 0.1 percent to $1,199.34 per
ounce by 0040 GMT.
    * U.S. gold futures         were down 0.3 percent at $1,199
per ounce.
    * With a rate increase by the Fed seen as a done deal,
investor focus is shifting to what message the central bank will
deliver when it concludes its meeting on Wednesday. In December
the Fed forecast three rate rises this year.
    * The statement from the Fed, due at 1800 GMT on Wednesday,
will be followed by a briefing at 1830 GMT.            
    * Investors were also focusing on Wednesday's Dutch
elections, which have been boosting gold's safe-haven appeal. 
    * The Party for Freedom is seen as having little chance of
coming to power, but a strong election performance for the group
that wants to "de-Islamicise" the Netherlands would fuel worries
over a surprise result in French presidential elections in April
and May.             
    * In Britain, concerns have increased over a second Scottish
independence referendum and the triggering of Article 50, which
would formally begin British negotiations to leave the European
    * Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.36 percent to 834.99
tonnes on Tuesday from Monday.          
    * U.S. producer prices increased more than expected in
February as the cost of services such as hotel accommodation
pushed higher and the year-on-year gain was the largest in
nearly five years, pointing to steadily rising inflation
    * One of the biggest mysteries in global markets so far in
the Trump era is the historically low level of volatility that
has prevailed despite all the turmoil and uncertainty that
analysts warned his victory would unleash.             
    * China issued a raft of upbeat data on Tuesday showing the
economy got off to a strong start to 2017, supported by strong
bank lending, a government infrastructure spree and a
much-needed resurgence in private investment.             
    * British firm BullionVault will from Tuesday offer
customers a facility to buy, sell and store physical platinum
held in bars weighing between 1 kg and 6 kg denominated in
sterling, dollars or euros.             
    1000  Euro zone     Employment                 Q4 
    1230  U.S.          Consumer prices            Feb 
    1230  U.S.          New York Fed manufacturing Mar 
    1230  U.S.          Retail sales               Feb 
    1400  U.S.          Business inventories       Jan 
    1400  U.S.         NAHB housing market index   Mar 
    1800  Federal Open Market Committee releases statement 
    1830  Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen holds news briefing

 (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph
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