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Gold prices were steady on Thursday as risk appetite improved after the US Federal Reserve chairman tried to assuage fears about aggressive interest rate hikes, countering safe-haven demand spurred by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Spot gold held its ground at $1,925.33 per ounce by 0441 GMT. US gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,928.90.

"This is the push me, pull you effect Potential for higher interest rates from better economic activities is clearly a negative for gold, that's being overwhelmed by the geopolitical concerns," said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist officer at Tiger Brokers, Australia.

"At one stage the reality of a better economic outlook will weigh on gold prices. So one potential scenario is a spurt towards those all-time highs over the next two weeks before the gravity effect of higher interest rates start to pull gold prices down again."

Meanwhile, Ukraine's second-biggest city, Kharkiv, suffered heavy bombardment on Wednesday, while a fresh round of sanctions by the United States is bound to make it harder for Russia to modernise its oil refineries.

Asian shares gained ground after reassuring comments from the Fed to "carefully" raise interest rates at its upcoming March meeting, but be ready to move more aggressively if inflation does not cool as quickly as expected.

Even though gold is considered a safe investment during political and economic uncertainty, it is highly sensitive to rising US interest rates, which increases the opportunity cost of holding bullion.

Palladium, used by automakers in catalytic converters to curb emissions, fell 0.8% to $2,645.03, after hitting its highest level since July at $2,722.79 on Tuesday.

Spot silver shed 0.2% to $25.19 per ounce, while platinum rose 0.2% to $1,073.32.

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