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PRECIOUS-Gold steady as markets await BOJ, Fed decisions

Sept 21 (Reuters) - Gold was little changed in Asian trade
on Wednesday as investors awaited the outcome of the Bank of
Japan's policy meeting and a decision on interest rates from the
U.S. Federal Reserve later in the day.
    
    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold was almost flat at $1,314.80 an ounce by
0109 GMT. 
    * U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,318.60 an
ounce.
    * The dollar and the yen fluttered in narrow ranges on
Wednesday, penned in by uncertainty about the outcome of Bank of
Japan and Federal Reserve policy meetings. 
    * The U.S. central bank is widely expected to hold interest
rates unchanged at 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent, and could hint
at a rate hike by the end of the year.
    * The Bank of Japan is expected to make negative interest
rates the centrepiece of a new policy framework - widely seen as
a desperate attempt to show it still has the means to fight
chronic stagnation. 
    * U.S. Treasuries' yields fell on Tuesday as traders bought
longer-dated bonds on uncertainty over whether the Bank of Japan
might decide to add more stimulus to boost its economy.
 
    * Japan's exports fell 9.6 percent in August from a year
earlier, posting an 11th straight month of decline, Ministry of
Finance data showed on Wednesday, underscoring sluggish external
demand. 
    * SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.41 percent to
938.75 tonnes on Tuesday. 
    * Russia's gold reserves increased to 49.1 million troy
ounces as of the start of September from 48.4 million ounces a
month earlier, the central bank said on Tuesday. 
    * Swiss gold imports from Hong Kong hit their highest since
records began in 2012 last month, data from the Swiss customs
bureau showed on Tuesday, while its exports to the region
slipped to a four-month low. 
    * New Gold Inc, which has unnerved shareholders
this month by revising upward to over $1 billion the estimated
cost of a mine it is building, is confident that this will be
the last projected increase.   
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    MARKET REPORT
    Asian shares got off to a tentative start on Wednesday,
while the yen was steady as investors braced for the outcome of
the Bank of Japan's policy meeting amid heightened speculation
the central bank will make crucial changes to its massive easing
programme. 

 (Reporting by Swati Verma in Bengaluru; Editing by Ed Davies)
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