(Corrects company name and designation of analyst in 11th paragraph in Oct. 18 story)
* U.S. Fed minutes signal more rate hikes likely
* Dollar index rises to one-week high
BENGALURU, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady on Thursday as a fall in Asian shares was offset by a stronger dollar, which firmed after minutes of the Federal Reserve’s September meeting reinforced expectations of a tighter U.S. monetary policy.
Fed policymakers are largely united on the need to raise borrowing costs further, minutes from their most recent policy meeting showed, boosting expectations the committee will stick to its hawkish stance on raising interest rates.
Spot gold was flat at $1,222.23 an ounce at 0746 GMT, staying close to its highest since July 26 at 1,233.26 an ounce hit on Monday.
U.S. gold futures were down 0.2 percent at $1,225.20 an ounce.
“Gold is closely tracking both the U.S. dollar and equities, more so the dollar,” said Peter Fung, head of dealing at Wing Fung Precious Metals in Hong Kong.
The dollar index rose to a fresh one-week high against a basket of currencies on Thursday.
“When the debate is that how high you can push the interest rate, it is going to leave a negative scar on the gold price in the short term,” Think Markets UK chief markets analyst Naeem Aslam said in a note.
“However, there are higher chances of miscalculation here, hence we do think that any drop in the gold price could be an opportunity.”
Higher U.S. interest rates tend to boost the dollar, putting pressure on gold prices by increasing the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.
Meanwhile, China’s benchmark stock index skidded to four-year lows and dragged Asian equities down on Thursday, as renewed fears of a broadening economic impact from an escalating Sino-U.S. trade conflict sapped confidence.
“Geopolitical and macroeconomic factors are still not indicating exuberance and risk appetite returning to markets with full throttle,” said Sugandha Sachdeva, vice president of metals, energy and currency research at Religare Broking Ltd.
Trade war concerns, recent tensions between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and a hawkish Fed are among the factors likely to weigh on appetite for riskier assets. This bodes well for gold as a hedge against market volatility and a portfolio diversifier, she added.
Bullion was testing resistance at the 100-day moving average of about $1,225. A convincing break above that is seen as a bullish sign for investors who follow technical signals.
A bearish target zone of $1,208-$1,217 per ounce remains unchanged for spot gold, following its failure to break a strong resistance at $1,235, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.
In other metals, silver fell 0.7 percent to $14.51 per ounce, platinum was up 0.1 percent at $832.50 per ounce, and palladium was up 0.3 percent at $1,072.0. (Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin and Sunil Nair)
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