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. FUNDAMENTALS * Spot gold was steady at $1,253.20 an ounce by 0052 GMT. * U.S. gold futures fell 0.1 percent to $1,255 an ounce. * 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 or MARKET REPORTS * 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. DATA/EVENT AHEAD (GMT) 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 Pullin)
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