PRECIOUS-Gold rises as dollar backs off highs after Fed meeting minutes

    * GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns:

 (Updates prices, headline; adds comment after Fed minutes)
    By Renita D. Young and Zandi Shabalala
    NEW YORK/LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose on
Wednesday as the U.S. dollar backed off its highs against a
basket of currencies while investors interpreted minutes from
the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting as dovish.
    Most Federal Reserve policymakers thought it likely another
interest rate increase would be warranted "soon" if the U.S.
economic outlook remains intact, minutes of the central bank's
last policy meeting showed.            
    Higher interest rates make non interest-bearing assets like
gold less attractive.
    However sentiment was dovish, said Bob Haberkorn, senior
market strategist at RJO Futures. "They're backing off the
inflation target at 2 percent. Just them saying that signals
that [the Fed is] dovish on rates and it doesn't sound very
aggressive. That should be supportive for metals."
    Policymakers once again debated the inflation path. Several
noted that recent wage data provided "little evidence" of
overheating in the labor market, while some others saw a risk
that "supply constraints would intensify upward wage and price
pressures, or that financial imbalances could emerge." 
    Spot gold        gained 0.3 percent at $1,294.19 per ounce
by 2:35 p.m. EDT (1835 GMT), after touching its highest since
May 15 at $1,297.84. U.S. gold futures         for June delivery
settled down $2.40, or 0.2 percent, at $1,289.60 per ounce. 
    The dollar, in which gold and other commodities are priced,
rose versus a basket of currencies        but came off its
    Often used to store wealth in times of political or economic
uncertainty, gold was underpinned by safe-haven support after
U.S. President Donald Trump said he was not pleased about recent
talks with China.             
    Gold also saw some safe-haven support after President Sergio
Mattarella gave political novice Giuseppe Conte a mandate to
lead the first government in Italy made up of anti-establishment
parties that have vowed to shake up the European Union,
Haberkorn added.             
    Trump also cited a "substantial chance" his summit with
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will not take place as planned
on June 12 amid concerns that Kim is resistant to giving up his
nuclear weapons.             
    Gold has shown reduced volatility in the last few trading
sessions as it attempted a break above $1,300 and prices are
"waiting for a new, clear direction," said ActivTrades chief
analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa. 
    Silver        fell 0.4 percent at $16.45 an ounce and
platinum        was 0.2 percent lower at $904.30 an ounce. 
    Palladium        eased 1.2 percent to $979.10 an ounce.

 (Additional reporting by Karen Rodrigues in Bengaluru
Editing by Dale Hudson, Edmund Blair, Richard Chang and Diane