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LONDON: Gold prices edged up on Wednesday, after slipping in the previous session, as bullion’s appeal as a hedge against inflation remained intact ahead of the release of the U.S. Federal Reserve minutes due later in the day.

Spot gold rose 0.1% to $1,854.97 per ounce by 1030 GMT. U.S. gold futures were nearly steady at $1,858.30.

“Inflation could prove to be more stubborn. That’s why gold as an inflation hedge could remain relevant for longer,” said Xiao Fu, head of commodities markets strategy at Bank of China International.

Fu said gold would be supported over the next two or three months due to the inflation aspect and despite rising rate hike prospects among central banks.

Rising interest rates increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

Market participants are awaiting the Fed minutes of its Jan. 25-26 policy meeting due at 1900 GMT.

The U.S. central bank will kick off its tightening cycle in March with a 25 basis-point interest rate hike, a Reuters poll found, but a growing minority says it will opt for a more aggressive half-point move to clamp down inflation.

Safe-haven gold touched its highest level since June last year on Tuesday, before reversing course to close almost 1% lower after the Russian defence ministry said it was returning some troops to their bases after exercises near Ukraine.

The United States, however, said there were signs more troops were on their way. “Investors have attached a greater emphasis to hedging geopolitics (Russia-Ukraine), inflation concerns and broader market uncertainties,” said UBS analysts in a note.

“Some moderation in these risks should drive a switch in focus back to the headwinds associated with higher real rates.”

Among other precious metals, spot silver rose 0.4% to $23.43 per ounce, platinum firmed 0.4% to $1,029.89, and palladium was up 0.4% to $2,256.55.

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