August 21, 2019 / 4:30 AM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold eases as investors book profits; Fed minutes in focus

* FOMC July minutes due at 1800 GMT

* Spot gold may retest support $1,497/oz - Technicals

* Fed’s Jackson Hole symposium, G7 summit also awaited (Recasts first paragraph, adds comments, updates prices)

By Harshith Aranya

Aug 21 (Reuters) - Gold prices retreated below the key $1,500 level on Wednesday as traders booked profits and focus turned to the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s July meeting for clues on future interest rate cuts.

Spot gold was down 0.5% at $1,498.84 per ounce by 0818 GMT.

U.S. gold futures were also 0.5% lower, at $1,508.30.

With gold failing to break higher and trailing below $1,500 again, investors are taking profits, said Nicholas Frappell, global general manager at ABC Bullion.

“Gold should give up some ground here as part of the wider bull move,” Frappell said.

The metal has gained about 6%, or $88, so far this month, in part due to increasing global economic jitters amid a protracted U.S.-China trade war.

Minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s most recent meeting in July - when the U.S. central bank cut interest rates for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis - are due on Wednesday.

“The minutes are going to set up a foundation of what to expect, and then Jackson Hole will provide clarity as to whether the Fed is finally coming to the party with potential monetary policy support,” said IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda.

The Fed’s two-day Jackson Hole seminar will be followed by a Group of Seven summit this weekend, and investors will look for clues on what additional steps policymakers may take to boost growth amid signs of a looming recession.

Futures are currently fully priced for a quarter-point cut in rates next month, and over 100 basis points of easing by the end of next year.

The minutes will also be important in terms of clarification the markets need because quite a lot of confusion came out after Fed Chair Jerome Powell provided contradictory messages, Rodda said.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he had to confront China over trade even if it caused short-term harm to the U.S. economy because Beijing had been cheating Washington for decades.

The remarks came hours before his government announced approval of a sale of fighter jets to Taiwan, a move sure to further dim prospects for a quick trade deal.

The dollar index held close to a near three-week high versus major currencies, potentially denting demand for gold.

Spot gold may retest a support at $1,497 per ounce, a break below which could cause a fall to $1,480, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Elsewhere, silver fell 0.4% to $17.05 per ounce, while platinum was down 0.7% to $842.70.

Palladium fell 0.2% to $1,488.28 per ounce.

Reporting by Harshith Aranya and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Subhranshu Sahu

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