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Gold steady as global stocks rise and dollar firms

LONDON (Reuters) - Gold steadied on Wednesday as the dollar firmed ahead of a Federal Reserve policy decision and as receding worries over global economic growth led investors to buy equities and to sell assets perceived as safe havens.

Gold bullions are displayed at GoldSilver Central's office in Singapore June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su/Files

Company results and economic data have been upbeat of late. Germany’s Ifo business survey on Tuesday also showed confidence, soaring to record highs in July, while U.S. consumer confidence levels jumped to near 16-year highs, boosting the dollar.

Traders said short dollar positions were being trimmed on Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy decision, not due until later in the U.S. session. (1800 GMT)

“It’s mainly sky rocketing risk appetite that’s weighing on gold. US stocks closed at record highs, bonds tumbled, yields increased sharply and these are the ingredients for lower gold prices,” said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

“Stocks seem immune, at least for the moment, against a rather uncertain economic outlook and the political mess in Washington, and unless this changes gold will struggle to make meaningful gains.”

Spot gold was flat at $1,248.22 per ounce at 1415 GMT. U.S. gold futures for August delivery fell 0.3 percent to $1,247.90 per ounce.

The Fed is widely expected to hold interest rates unchanged, with expectations of another rate hike before the end of the year at less than 50 percent.

The central bank might, however, hint that it will start winding down its massive holdings of bonds as early as September, a move that should push up bond yields, support the dollar and weigh on gold.

Higher yields increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding gold, while a stronger dollar makes dollar-priced bullion more expensive for holders of other currencies.

“The technical break during Asian trade today saw some participants heading for the exits as we near the FOMC rates announcement and it is difficult to see gold making any headway above $1,250 leading into the Fed,” said MKS in a note.

“A hawkish tone from Yellen today will open up a test toward the 200 day moving average $1,229, while a dovish skew is likely to see a recovery test (at between) $1,258 - $1,262.”

Also weighing on gold, holdings at the SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 1.13 percent to 800.45 tonnes on Tuesday from 809.62 tonnes on Monday.

In other precious metals, silver slipped 0.1 percent to $16.47 per ounce.

Platinum edged 0.5 percent lower to $922 per ounce, while palladium rose 0.6 percent to $861.35 per ounce.

Additional reporting by Nithin Prasad and Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle