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Gold prices were confined to a small range in seasonally-quieter trading on Wednesday, as a higher risk appetite and a firm dollar countered safe-haven demand fuelled by the rapidly spreading Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,787.83 per ounce by 0954 GMT, while US gold futures were also steady at $1,788.20.

"You have conflicting signals," said Quantitative Commodity Research analyst Peter Fertig, noting that for gold, pressure from a higher US dollar and firm government bond yields was being neutralised by support from weakness in UK equities after downbeat GDP data.

Official data on Wednesday showed Britain's economy expanded more slowly than previously thought in the July-September period, nudging UK shares lower.

But investor sentiment elsewhere remained positive heading into the year-end, with both Asian and European shares gaining despite rising COVID-19 cases.

Although Omicron concerns abound, the lack of overtly distressing symptoms provides some relief, which is a reason for a move towards riskier assets, said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.

The dollar index inched higher after two days of losses, making gold more expensive for buyers holding other currencies.

Gold holds steady as Omicron sours risk sentiment

Benchmark US Treasury and German government bond yields hovered near recent highs, weighing on gold as higher yields increase the opportunity cost of holding bullion, which pays no interest.

Broadly speaking, however, "with trading volume thin and major players away ahead of the year, the gold market is expected to be choppy ... Momentum is lacking and prices most likely consolidate with the comfortable range," Phillip Futures analyst Avtar Sandu said in a note.

Spot silver edged 0.2% higher to $22.54 per ounce, platinum was up 0.2% to $936.70, and palladium rose 2.1% to $1,830.76.

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