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LONDON: Gold steadied in a narrow range on Monday as the market focus pivoted to this week’s Federal Reserve meeting to learn how quickly it plans to unwind economic support measures introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Spot gold was last up 0.1% at $1,783.91 per ounce as of 0947 GMT. US gold futures were flat at $1,784.70.

Prices rose as much as 0.8% on Friday following data showing US consumer prices rose further in November, leading to the largest annual gain since 1982. “In the short- to medium-term, gold’s not going to be going anywhere until we get an idea of how much the Fed accelerates tapering and whether or not they are particularly hawkish in their statement, which could help yields and pressure gold,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Although gold is considered an inflation hedge, reduced stimulus and interest rate increases tend to push government bond yields up, raising the opportunity cost of bullion, which pays no interest.

But with the market pricing in the Fed moving forward into a rate rise cycle, it is sufficient for gold to be counted as a defensive asset right now, said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.

“And that’s why it’s continuing to hold the bid,” he said.

The Fed is likely to announce a faster tapering of bond purchases but more pronounced concerns over inflation or an aggressive “dot plot” could roil markets.

Also preventing a breakout in gold from the $1,760-$1,795 per ounce level it has been hemmed in for most of December, risk appetite stabilised, and the dollar edged higher.

A stronger dollar makes bullion more expensive for those holding other currencies, dimming its appeal.

Spot silver dropped 0.1% to $22.14 per ounce while platinum fell 0.2% to $940.01, and palladium was down 0.3% to $1,755.53.

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