PRECIOUS-Gold steady on easing dollar; Fed minutes in focus

Oct 12 (Reuters) - Gold was little changed early Wednesday
as the U.S. dollar retreated, with markets waiting for minutes
from the September Federal Reserve policy meeting for more clues
on any interest rate hikes this year.
    * Spot gold was steady at $1,253.20 an ounce by 0052
    * U.S. gold futures fell 0.1 percent to $1,255 an
    * The dollar index, which measures the greenback
against a basket of six major currencies, was down 0.1 percent
at 97.633. The index surged to a seven-month high on Tuesday.
    * Investors awaited the minutes of the Federal Reserve Open
Market Committee's September meeting, scheduled to be released
later on Wednesday.
    * The U.S. Federal Reserve should engineer monetary policy
to spur inflation to rise above its two-percent target because
the costs of doing so are less than in past decades, Chicago
Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans said on Tuesday.
    * Bank of England policymaker Michael Saunders said on
Tuesday he would not be surprised if the pound fell further, but
the BoE could overlook the effect of weak sterling on inflation,
possibly for years. 
    * China's economy performed better than expected in the
third quarter and the country's debt risks are under control,
Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday. 
    * Morocco's biggest miner Managem has bought a 40
stake in Avocet Mining Plc's Tri-K gold mines in Guinea
for an undisclosed amount, a statement from the Moroccan company
said on Tuesday. 
    * Chalice Gold Mines Ltd to acquire Globex's
interest in Nordeau Gold Project located in Abitibi region of
Quebec Canada. 
    * Mali mine workers will go on strike on Oct. 24 for five
days, a union official said on Tuesday, to protest what he
described as unfair treatment of union workers. 
    * Not many small exploration companies would knock back a
multi-million-dollar financing offer by BHP Billiton,
, the world's biggest mining company, but Nick Mather of
Ecuador-focused SolGold Plc said he has better offers.
    * For the top stories on metals and other news, click
    * Crude futures inched up on Wednesday, with investors
waiting for talks between OPEC producers and other oil exporters
on curbing output to end a glut in the global market. 
    0600 Germany Wholesale price index September
    0900 Euro zone Industrial production August
    1800 Minutes of the Federal Reserve's Sept. 20-21 meeting

 (Reporting by Swati Verma in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard