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BENGALURU: Gold prices were little changed on Wednesday as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of the US central bank’s policy decision, with major focus on Chair Jerome Powell’s speech for cues on future rate stance.

Spot gold was down 0.2% at $1,977.97 per ounce by 12:57 p.m. ET (1657 GMT). US gold futures eased 0.4% at $1,986.90.

“The bulk of gold’s rally has been driven by geopolitical risks. Weakening US data and lower rates in the long run should be factors supporting gold,” said Daniel Ghali, commodity strategist at TD Securities. “In the near term, prices will trade north of the $2,000 range,” Ghali added.

This week, gold prices have slightly pulled back after surpassing the key $2,000 level on Friday. Bullion rose over 7% in October, helped by strong safe-haven demand due to growing unrest in the Middle East. Focus now shifts to the US Federal Reserve’s monetary policy statement at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), followed by a speech by Chair Jerome Powell.

The Fed is widely expected to keep interest rates on hold at 5.25-5.50%. Higher interest rates raise the opportunity cost of holding gold. Investors will also scan through the October non-farm payrolls report on Friday.

Meanwhile, US labour costs increased solidly in the third quarter amid strong wage growth, while house price inflation accelerated in August, the latest signs that the Fed could keep interest rates high for some time.

US benchmark 10-year Treasury yields slipped after the US Treasury Department announced plans to “gradually” increase the size of its debt auctions.

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