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Gold prices gain slightly in Asia ahead of Fed decision

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Shutterstock photo - - Gold ticked slightly higher in Asia on Wednesday as investors awaited a widely expected rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for February delivery rose 0.11% to $1,061.20 a troy ounce.

Silver futures for March delivery gained 0.18% to $13.780 a troy ounce, while copper for March delivery eased 0.08% to $2.050 a pound.

Overnight, gold was flat on Tuesday in spite of a broadly stronger dollar, as relatively positive Consumer Price Inflation data paved the way for the Federal Reserve to likely approve an interest rate hike when it releases its December monetary policy statement on Wednesday.

Gold likely gained support at $1,046.20, the low from December 3 and was met with resistance at $1,121.90, the high from Nov. 4.

On Tuesday morning, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that its CPI Index remained unchanged in November from the previous month, in line with analysts' expectations. On a yearly basis, the CPI index edged up by 0.5% over the last 12 months, considerably above gains of 0.2% in October. The Core CPI Index, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, gained 0.2% on the month, also in line with analysts' forecasts. Over the last year, Core CPI has increased by 2.0%, slightly above October's gains of 1.9%. Long-term inflation has remained below the Fed's targeted goal of 2% for every month over the last three years. The Fed's preferred gauge, the Core PCE index, has hovered around 1.25% over the last several months.

In a speech earlier this month, Fed chair Janet Yellen noted that while improving conditions in the U.S. economy have met the Federal Open Market Committee's expectations since it last met in October, she emphasized that long-term inflation still remains considerably below the Fed's target. Although the FOMC estimated that Core PCE inflation will pick up noticeably next year and will rise further in 2017, it also projected that long-term inflation will not reach 2% until 2018.

The Federal Funds Rate, the Fed's benchmark rate offered on interbank, overnight loans, has remained at its current level between zero and 0.25% since December, 2008, shortly after the start of the Financial Crisis. Any increase of the targeted range for the Federal Funds Rate is expected to be modest at 25 basis points. The FOMC last approved a rate hike in June, 2006. Yellen has continually argued in recent months that the timing of lift-off will pale in comparison to the gradual path of upward moves over the next year.

A rate hike is generally viewed as bearish for gold, which is not attached to interest rates and struggles to compete with high-yield bearing assets. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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