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PRECIOUS-Gold prices hold steady as markets await Fed minutes

 (Updates prices)
    * U.S. Fed's minutes from latest meeting due at 1800 GMT
    * Wall Street's main indexes open higher
    * Trump: U.S. might be getting to top of the outbreak
'curve' 

    By Sumita Layek
    April 8 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady on Wednesday as
investors awaited the release of minutes from the U.S. Federal
Reserve's policy meeting, which is expected to provide further
clues on stimulus measures amid rapid surge in coronavirus
cases.
    Spot gold        were little changed at $1,648.43 per ounce
by 1:31 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT), having hit a near one-month high on
Tuesday at $1,671.40. U.S. gold futures        settled flat at
$1,684.30.
    "As countries and federal governments stimulate their
economies with helicopter money, stimulus programs - it's a
printing press of money supply, which is generally a very
favourable environment for gold," said David Meger, director of
metals trading at High Ridge Futures.
    Wall Street stocks rose on hopes that the coronavirus
outbreak in the United States was nearing its peak and
expectations the Congress will push through more aid for the
battered economy.     
    Focus now shifts to minutes of the Fed's latest meeting at
1800 GMT.
    "Sure, we're all going to be very interested in seeing where
the Fed lies on their interest rate path. (But) I think we're
more focused on fiscal stimulus plans as opposed to monetary
stimulus plans," Meger said.
    The pandemic has infected more than 1.38 million people
across the world and 81,451 have died, according to a Reuters
tally.             
    U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the United
States might be getting to the top of the "curve" of the
coronavirus outbreak and reiterated that he wants to get the
U.S. economy reopened soon.                          
    "The U.S. and Europe are hoping the models suggesting the
next week will be the worst, regarding new virus infections, are
correct, and that the curve will have then peaked for them,"
Kitco Metals senior analyst Jim Wyckoff said in a note.
    "Technically, the gold bulls have the solid overall
near-term technical advantage amid a price uptrend in place ...
that strongly suggests the path of least resistance for prices
will remain sideways to higher for at least the near term and
probably longer."
    Market participants are also eyeing Thursday's meeting of
members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
and its allies, which could result in further output cuts to
shore up oil prices that have tumbled.
    Elsewhere, palladium        rose 0.1% to $2,176.79 an ounce,
while platinum        fell 1.3% to $724.08.
    Silver        shed 0.7% to $14.89 an ounce, having touched a
more than three-week high in the previous session.

 (Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru
Editing by Marguerita Choy)
  
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