Gold flat ahead of U.S. inflation data

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Jan 12 (Reuters) – Gold prices held steady near a one-week high on Wednesday, as traders kept an eye out for U.S. inflation data for rate clues after less hawkish comments from the Federal Reserve chief fuelled a bullion rally in the previous session.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,819.90 per ounce by 0634 GMT, after scaling a near one-week high of $1,822.91 on Tuesday. U.S. gold futures were up 0.1% at $1,821.00.

“Fed Chair (Jerome) Powell’s confirmation hearing did not bring any additional hawkish rhetoric beyond what the market was already looking for,” said DailyFX currency strategist Ilya Spivak.

Powell said the central bank was determined to battle inflation and far from diminishing job growth, a turn to higher policy interest rates and a runoff of its asset holdings was necessary to keep the current economic expansion underway.

Benchmark 10-year yields retreated and the dollar slid to its weakest since November following Powell’s testimony.

Gold is considered a hedge against higher inflation, but the metal is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates which increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

“In the payrolls report that we saw last Friday, inflation was notably hotter than expected. If this carries over into the CPI number … I’d expect gold to come down around speculations that the Fed has to ultimately get more hawkish than it already is,” Spivak added.

U.S. inflation data is due at 1330 GMT, with core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, seen rising by 5.4%, its highest in decades and up from 4.9% in the prior month.

Spot silver was up 0.2% to $22.81 an ounce, platinum edged up 0.1% to $971.81 and palladium was flat at $1,922.09. (Reporting by Asha Sistla in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Rashmi Aich)

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