September 26, 2018 / 1:20 AM / 20 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold inches down as dollar firms; Fed in focus

BENGALURU, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Gold prices nudged down early Wednesday on a firmer dollar, as investors waited for details of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting that should give clues whether policymakers will raise interest rates for the third time this year.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,200.18, as of 0057 GMT.

* U.S. gold futures little changed at $1,204.6 an ounce.

* Investors await details from the two-day Federal Reserve meeting that began on Tuesday, with the U.S. central bank expected to raise benchmark interest rates and shed light on the path for future rate hikes.

* Higher U.S. interest rates typically pressure gold, since it costs to store and insure, but does not pay interest.

* U.S. consumer confidence surged to an 18-year high in September as households grew more upbeat about the labour market, pointing to sustained strength in the economy despite an increasingly bitter trade dispute between the United States and China.

* U.S. President Donald Trump’s top trade official said on Tuesday that changing China’s economic policies to become more market-oriented “is not going to be easy” even with tariffs now in place on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.

* Although gold is generally considered to be a safe-haven asset, the months-long trade rift between Washington and Beijing has instead prompted investors to buy U.S. dollars in the belief that the United States has less to lose from the dispute.

* The dollar index, which weighs the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was up 0.1 percent.

* Canada is not making concessions needed to reach a deal with the United States for a trilateral NAFTA pact and is running out of time before Washington proceeds with a Mexico-only agreement, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday.

* Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani exchanged taunts at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday with the U.S. President vowing more sanctions against Tehran and Rouhani suggesting his American counterpart suffers from a “weakness of intellect.”

* Money markets now anticipate the ECB will lift interest rates in September 2019, bringing forward expectations for a first rate hike in a sign of growing conviction that a move will come before Mario Draghi’s term as ECB chief ends.

DATA/EVENT AHEAD (GMT)

0645 France Consumer confidence Sept

1400 U.S. New home sales Aug

1800 U.S. Federal Reserve releases policy statement

1830 Fed Chairman Jerome Powell holds news conference (Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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