November 2, 2017 / 1:18 AM / 18 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold prices up; focus on pick for U.S. Fed chair

    Nov 2 (Reuters) - Gold prices held onto gains early on
Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve left interest rates
unchanged on Wednesday, and as investors awaited an announcement
on a new chair for the central bank later in the day.
            
    FUNDAMENTALS    
    * Spot gold        was up 0.3 percent to $1,277.76 per ounce
at 0047 GMT. 
    * U.S. gold futures         for December delivery edged up
0.1 percent to $1,278.60.   
    * The dollar index       , which tracks the greenback
against a basket of six major rivals, was down 0.2 percent to
94.645.         
    * The Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged on
Wednesday and pointed to solid U.S. economic growth and a
strengthening labor market while playing down the impact of
recent hurricanes, a sign it is on track to lift borrowing costs
again in December.             
    * Asian shares advanced after the Fed expressed optimism
about the economy, virtually cementing the case for a year-end
rate hike as investors awaited the formal nomination of the next
head of the central bank.            
    * U.S. President Donald Trump plans to nominate current Fed
Governor Jerome Powell as the next chair of the U.S. central
bank, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
            
    * Rising expectations that President Trump will tap Powell,
who is seen as more dovish on interest rates, have pressured
U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar this week.
    * The U.S. economy unexpectedly maintained a brisk pace of
growth in the third quarter as an increase in inventory
investment and a smaller trade deficit offset a
hurricane-related slowdown in consumer spending and a decline in
construction.            
    * Traders also awaited Donald Trump's tax plan, which
Republicans plan to release Thursday morning.             
    * Holdings of the SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.14 percent to 849.59
tonnes on Wednesday.          
    * The Perth Mint's sales of gold products fell 3.87 percent
in October from a month earlier, while silver sales rose about
43 percent, the mint said in a blog post on its website on
Wednesday.             
    * South African precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater
SGLJ.J confirmed on Wednesday that it had laid off more than
2,000 gold miners as it shuts its loss-making Cooke shafts where
illegal mining syndicates have plagued its operations.
            
    
    
       
    DATA/EVENT AHEAD (GMT)
    0900  Euro Zone   Markit Mfg Final PMI    Oct
    1130  U.S.        Challenger Layoffs      Oct
    1230  U.S.        Initial Jobless Claims  weekly
    

 (Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Michael
Perry)
  

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