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PRECIOUS-Gold falls on swift economic recovery hopes; Fed minutes eyed

    * U.S. Fed meeting minutes due at 1800 GMT
    * U.S. job openings rose to 2-year high in February
    * Euro zone business activity returns to growth in March

 (Updates prices)
    By Sumita Layek
    April 7 (Reuters) - Gold prices fell on Wednesday as robust
economic data from the United States lifted expectations of a
rapid recovery and dampened bullion's appeal, while investors
were waiting for minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policy
meeting.
    Spot gold        fell 0.5% to $1,734.20 per ounce by 1158
GMT. U.S. gold futures        slipped 0.4% to $1,735.80 per
ounce.
    Strong U.S. economic data is raising fears that central bank
tapering can arrive sooner than expected, said ActivTrades chief
analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa.
    Expectations are rising that accelerating U.S. economic
growth and inflation could force the Fed to abandon its pledge
to keep interest rates near zero until 2024.     
    Non-yielding gold is highly sensitive to rising rates, as
they raise the opportunity cost of holding bullion and support
dollar and bond yields.       
    Market participants are waiting for the release of minutes
from the U.S. Federal Reserve's March 16-17 policy meeting at
1800 GMT.
    Data on Tuesday showed U.S. job openings rose to a two-year
high in February while hiring picked up on strengthening
domestic demand amid increased COVID-19 vaccinations and
additional pandemic aid from the government.            
            
    Euro zone business activity also returned to growth last
month, underpinned by a record expansion in the manufacturing
sector.            
    The International Monetary Fund, meanwhile, raised its
outlook for global economic growth. nL1N2LZ22A]
    However, safe-haven gold can still remain supported as
"things are not so good in Europe. Vaccinations are well behind
and are progressing very slowly and we are still in midst of a
third (coronavirus) wave," said Commerzbank analyst Carsten
Fritsch.
    Central banks across the globe, in particular the European
Central Bank and the Federal Reserve, want to see higher growth
and inflation numbers before they think about changing monetary
policy, he added.
    Among other precious metals, silver        fell 1% to $24.91
per ounce, palladium        fell 2.1% to $2,629.20, while
platinum        eased 0.5% to $1,226.82.

 (Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten
Donovan and Bernadette Baum)
  
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