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Commodity Market Tips; Gold Prices Steady As U.S. Dollar Firms

Gold prices held steady on Thursday as the U.S. dollar firmed following overnight losses after the release of minutes from the last U.S. Federal Reserve meeting, which suggested a cautious approach to interest rate hikes.

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* Spot gold had crept down 0.1 percent to $1,236.30 per ounce at 0109 GMT, while U.S. gold futures rose 0.4 percent to $1,237.6. 

* Many Fed policymakers said it may be appropriate to raise interest rates again "fairly soon" should jobs and inflation data come in line with expectations, according to the minutes of the Fed's last policy meeting. 

* The minutes of the Jan. 31-Feb. 1 discussion also showed the depth of uncertainty at the Fed over the lack of clarity on the new Trump administration's economic program. 

* Asian stocks pulled back from a 19-month high on Thursday, while the dollar tried to steady from losses suffered in the wake of the Fed minutes. The dollar index was up 0.1 percent at 101.37. 

* Stock market optimism about U.S. President Donald Trump's economic agenda is overdone and political risk in Europe isn't priced in, according to some hedge funds who are betting that the rally in equities is coming to an end. 

* Veteran French centrist Francois Bayrou said on Wednesday he was offering an alliance with independent candidate Emmanuel Macron, a move that could give the former investment banker a much-needed boost to reach the runoff in May's presidential election. 

* More than 20 percent of UK consumers are worried about the impact of Brexit on their spending plans over the next year, according to a report published by PwC on Thursday.

 * Euro zone inflation rose to an annual rate of 1.8 percent in January, the European Union statistics agency said on Wednesday confirming its earlier estimates. 

* Holdings of the largest gold-backed exchange-traded-fund (ETF), New York's SPDR Gold Trust, remained unchanged on Tuesday from Friday.

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