October 17, 2018 / 1:25 AM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold prices hold steady as investors wait for Fed minutes

BENGALURU, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady on Wednesday despite a rise in equities, with investors waiting for minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting for any fresh clues on the pace of interest rate hikes.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,224.70 an ounce at 0100 GMT. On Monday, it touched its highest since July 26 at $1,233.26 an ounce..

* U.S. gold futures were down 0.2 percent at $1,228.30 an ounce.

* U.S. President Donald Trump heaped more criticism on the Fed in an interview with Fox Business Network on Tuesday, extending his discontent beyond its chairman, Jerome Powell, whom he has frequently critiqued in public.

* Past U.S. presidents have been reticent to criticize the central bank because its independence is seen as important for economic stability. But Trump in the past week has called the Fed “crazy,” “loco,” “ridiculous,” and “too cute”.

* Asian equities got some much needed relief on Wednesday after upbeat U.S. earnings reports drove a rebound on Wall Street and helped restore a little confidence in emerging market stocks and currencies.

* The dollar index against a basket of currencies held steady on Wednesday, after hitting a two-week low in the previous session.

* Trump gave Saudi Arabia the benefit of the doubt in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi even as U.S. lawmakers pointed the finger at the Saudi leadership and Western pressure mounted on Riyadh to provide answers.

* The U.S. Trade Representative’s office told Congress on Tuesday it intends to open trade talks with the European Union, the United Kingdom and Japan.

* U.S. industrial production increased for a fourth straight month in September, boosted by gains in manufacturing and mining output, but momentum slowed sharply in the third quarter.

* Chinese exporters are mostly confident they can weather a trade war with the United States, but worry about collateral damage it might cause throughout the global economy, according to a Reuters poll of participants at China’s largest trade fair.

* European Union leaders will give British Prime Minister Theresa May a tough reception in Brussels on Wednesday, warning her to rally support at home for the Brexit deal on offer or be cut loose without one in March.

* The Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) on Tuesday invited companies to apply for a market maker role on its nickel and gold futures contracts in a bid to boost liquidity.

DATA/EVENT AHEAD (GMT)

0830 UK Consumer prices Sep

0900 Euro zone Construction output Aug

1230 U.S. Housing starts Sep

1230 U.S. Building permits Sep

1800 U.S. Federal Reserve releases minutes from its

Sept. 25-26 policy meeting (Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru Editing by Joseph Radford)

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