PRECIOUS-Gold steady post Fed minutes; focus on Trump economic policy

    * Spot gold remains neutral in $1,233-$1,240/oz
    * Investors await Trump's address to Congress next week

 (Updates prices, adds comment)
    By Arpan Varghese
    Feb 23 (Reuters) - Gold prices were steady on Thursday,
supported by uncertainty surrounding U.S. President Donald
Trump's economic policy after Wednesday's Federal Reserve
minutes failed to give the market much direction, despite its
support for interest rate hikes.
    "Gold continues to tread water post the Federal Open Market
Committee minutes, probably the highlight of a very light data
week," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.
    Spot gold        edged down 0.1 percent to $1,236.16 per
ounce at 0714 GMT, while U.S. gold futures         rose 0.3
percent to $1,237.5.
    Many Fed policymakers said it may be appropriate to raise
interest rates again "fairly soon" should jobs and inflation
data come in line with expectations, according to the minutes of
the Fed's last policy meeting.
    The minutes of the Jan. 31-Feb. 1 discussion also showed the
depth of uncertainty at the Fed over the lack of clarity on the
new Trump administration's economic programme.             
    Gold is highly-sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, as
it increases the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding
bullion, while also boosting the dollar.
    The dollar index       , which tracks the dollar versus a
basket of major global currencies, ended slightly lower after
the Fed minutes and was up only 0.1 percent at 101.36 as of 0714
    Spot gold remains neutral in a range of $1,233-$1,240 per
ounce, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.
    Investors were also looking ahead to an address by U.S.
President Donald Trump to Congress next week at which he is
expected to announce tax policies. 
    "Markets are hoping that we get some long awaited concrete
detail on the new administration's economic and fiscal policy,"
Halley said.
    Political uncertainty including lingering doubts over
Trump's policies as well as elections in France and the
Netherlands, has offered broad support for the yellow metal,
which has risen over 7 percent this year.
    "Gold is likely to stay above the $1,200 level at least in
the first half of 2017 due to the political risks," said OCBC
analyst Barnabas Gan.
    French far right leader Marine Le Pen has increased her lead
in the first round of France's presidential election, though she
is still seen being beaten by a wide margin in a runoff, a
BVA-Salesforce poll published on Thursday showed.             
    In other precious metals, spot silver        fell 0.5
percent to $17.93 per ounce.
    Platinum        fell 1 percent to $992.05 per ounce, while
palladium        inched lower 0.5 percent to $764.95.

 (Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian
Schmollinger and Amrutha Gayathri)