PRECIOUS-Inflation worries keep gold steady after Fed maintains stance

* Fed committed to support economy until recovery is more secure

* Investors expect Fed to raise rates by January 2022 – analyst

* SPDR Gold holdings slip on Wednesday (Adds comments; updates prices)

By Diptendu Lahiri

April 8 (Reuters) – Gold prices steadied after early falls on Thursday, as market participants weighed the U.S. Federal Reserve’s commitment to keep interest rates low for some time against likely higher inflation.

Spot gold was flat at $1,737.89 per ounce by 0407 GMT. U.S. GCv1 fell 0.1% to $1,739.20 per ounce.

Fed officials are committed to supporting the economy until its recovery is more secure, minutes of the U.S. central bank’s most recent policy meeting released on Wednesday showed. Fed was very assuring about its stand on interest rates, although investors are not convinced,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC (NS:) Markets.

“Investors are expecting the Fed will have to hike interest rates as early as January 2022 as it becomes a huge task once inflation starts going out of control.”

Several policymakers at the Fed’s March 16-17 meeting indicated they thought interest rates might need to increase sooner than anticipated by the bulk of their colleagues, and perhaps as soon as next year, the minutes showed.

Non-yielding gold tends to fall out of favour when interest rates rise, as it increases the opportunity cost of holding bullion.

Recent economic data have indicated a faster turnaround from the pandemic impacts and boosted risk assets. U.S. stock futures nudged higher to hit a record on Thursday, weighing on gold’s safe-haven appeal. MKTS/GLOB

In the near term, gold has support at $1,727 and $1,720 levels, followed by $1,705, OANDA senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley said in a note.

SPDR Gold Trust , the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.35 tonne to 1,028.69 tonnes on Wednesday. GOL/ETF

Lending support to gold, the U.S. dollar tracked Treasury yields lower and traded near a more than two-week low versus major peers on Thursday. USD/ US/

Among other metals, silver fell 0.1% to $25.09 per ounce and palladium was down 0.3% to $2,614.98. Platinum rose 0.6% to $1,232.99.

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