Gold prices ease on Fed rate hike prospects

Gold prices edged down on Thursday as the dollar rose on expectations that the US Federal Reserve might raise interest rates in December.


* Spot gold XAU= had fallen 0.1 percent to $1,253.20 an ounce by 0052 GMT.

* US gold futures GCcv1 were up 0.1 percent at $1,255 an ounce.

* The dollar index .DXY, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, gained 0.1 percent to 98.096. The dollar hovered near a seven-month high early Thursday. [USD/]

* Several voting Federal Reserve policymakers judged a rate hike would be warranted "relatively soon" if the US economy continued to strengthen but doubts on inflation remained, according to the minutes of the Fed's September policy meeting released on Wednesday.

* The European Central Bank may discuss technical changes to its asset-buying scheme next week but a decision could be deferred until December when the bank will also decide whether to extend the scheme beyond March, sources familiar with the discussion said.

* Bank of England policymaker Michael Saunders said on Tuesday he would not be surprised if the pound fell further, but the BoE could overlook the effect of weak sterling on inflation, possibly for years.

* Bank of Japan policymakers signalled on Wednesday they had raised the threshold for further easing after last month's policy revamp - keeping their pledge to expand stimulus if needed, but only to protect the economy from external shocks.

* South Africa has failed to protect residents affected by pollution from contaminated water and mine dumps over more than 130 years of gold mining near Johannesburg, an independent investigation by the Harvard Law School said.

* Chinese banks are stepping up lending to midsize metals traders in Singapore, pushing into a gap in the market as US regulations and fading appetite for risk drive Western rivals to focus on larger commodity merchants, metals industry sources said.

* Silver and gold miner Fresnillo Plc (FRES.L) reports gold production of 220,000 ounces (koz), up about 21 percent from last year as recovery speed at Herradura and Noche Buena mines rose.

* ABN AMRO on Wednesday cut its gold price outlook for 2016 and 2017.