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PRECIOUS-Gold prices flat as investors brace for large U.S. rate hike

    Sept 21 (Reuters) - Gold prices lingered near recent lows on
Wednesday as investors prepared for the likelihood of another
super-sized interest rate hike from the U.S. Federal Reserve in
its effort to tame soaring inflation.
    
    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold        was flat at $1,663.73 per ounce, as of
0126 GMT. Bullion hovered close to $1,653.10, its lowest level
in more than two years marked last week.
    * U.S. gold futures        edged 0.1% higher at $1,686.70.
    * The dollar index        was steady, holding close to a
20-year high hit earlier this month. A firmer greenback makes
bullion more expensive for other currency holders.       
    * The Fed's two-day policy meet will conclude on Wednesday,
with rate futures traders pricing in an 81% chance of a 75
basis-point hike and a 19% probability of a 100 bps increase.
          
    * Higher interest rates increase the opportunity cost of
holding non-yielding bullion and boosts the dollar. 
    * The European Central Bank may need to raise interest rates
to a level that restricts economic growth in order to cool
demand and combat unacceptably high inflation, ECB President
Christine Lagarde said on Tuesday.             
    * Swiss exports of gold to top consumer China fell in August
from July's 5-1/2-year high, while shipments to Turkey rose to
their highest since June 2013, Swiss customs data showed on
Tuesday.             
    * Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.48% to 953.32 tonnes on
Tuesday from 957.95 tonnes on Monday.             
    * Spot silver        fell 0.3% to $19.26 per ounce, platinum
       rose 0.2% to $924.10 and palladium        was down 0.9%
at $2,149.01. 

    DATA/EVENTS (GMT)
    1400   US   Existing Home Sales   Aug
    0800   German Finance Minister Christian Lindner speaks on 
    energy crisis, inflation, recession fears in Berlin
    1800   U.S. Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee
    (FOMC) announces its decision on interest rates followed by 
    statement
    1830   U.S. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell holds a news
    conference in Washington

 (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry
Jacob-Phillips)
  
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