PRECIOUS-Gold firms on weaker dollar as focus turns to Fed

    * Specs cut bullish gold positions in week to Aug. 11 - CFTC
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 (Adds comment, updates prices)
    By Harshith Aranya
    Aug 17 (Reuters) - Gold rose on Monday as the dollar eased,
recouping initial declines following a steep drop in the
previous week, with focus on the release of U.S. Federal Reserve
minutes later this week.
    Spot gold        rose 0.3% to $1,949.09 per ounce by 0636
    Gold fell 4.5% last week in its biggest decline since March
as investors reassessed positions after bullion retreated from a
record peak of $2,072.50 scaled on Aug. 7. U.S. gold futures
        gained 0.5% at $1,958.90 per ounce.
    Gold does not "seem ready to resume the selloff in earnest
as traders wait for FOMC meeting minutes and the fate of U.S.
fiscal stimulus negotiations," said DailyFx currency strategist
Ilya Spivak. 
    "Prices may need to reclaim a foothold above the $2,000/oz
figure to suggest near-term selling pressure has been
    Making gold more attractive for holders of other currencies,
the dollar slipped as investors were relieved by a delay in the
review of a U.S.-China trade pact.              
    While a rise in real U.S. bond yields and profit taking
"stifled gold's upward trajectory" somewhat, fundamentals look
sound, said National Australia Bank economist John Sharma.      
    The minutes from the Fed's last policy meeting are due on
Wednesday, with focus on any hints of a possible change to its
guidance at its next review in September.             
    "The document might suggest the Fed is not in a hurry to
expand the monetary support toolkit for now," DailyFx's Spivak
     "The sense of urgency could be reduced further if Democrats
and Republicans manage to agree on another round of fiscal
     Gold has risen 28.4% so far this year as unprecedented
global stimulus to ease the economic blow from the COVID-19
pandemic pushed investors to bullion as a hedge against
inflation and currency debasement.                         
    Silver        rose 1.5% to $26.81 per ounce, platinum       
rose 2.1% to $955.54 per ounce and palladium        gained 2.6%
to $2,164.07 per ounce. 

 (Reporting by Harshith Aranya in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu and Amy Caren Daniel)