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Gold holds gains after Fed says it will leave rates unchanged

By Renita D. Young and Jan Harvey
A sales person shows a gold ring to customers at a jewellery showroom in Ahmedabad, October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Amit Dave

By Renita D. Young and Jan Harvey

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Gold advanced on Wednesday as traders repositioned themselves after the Federal Reserve said it will keep target interest rates unchanged for the time being.

Prices held onto earlier gains after statements from the U.S. central bank indicating that while it would leave rates unchanged, it was on track to lift borrowing costs again in December.

The Fed will leave rates unchanged at 1-1.25 percent. Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, as these lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.

Spot gold <XAU=> was 0.4 percent higher at $1,276.37 an ounce by 3:26 p.m. EDT (1926 GMT) , having earlier peaked at $1,280.87. Its upward move accelerated after it broke through its 100-day moving average at $1,275 an ounce, a key chart level.

U.S. gold futures <GCv1> for December delivery settled up $6.80, or 0.5 percent, at $1,277.30 per ounce.

"The price action in gold was most likely positioning reversals. We saw some shorts cover and then the market came back," said Daniel Ghali, commodities strategist for TD Securities in Toronto.

The latest Fed statement came a day ahead of confirmation of a new chair, likely replacing incumbent Janet Yellen. Fed Governor Jerome Powell is widely seen as the favourite to take over next year. He is considered less hawkish and therefore more bullish for gold than his main challenger.

Gold prices have recovered from Friday's three-week low, but they remain within a less than $15 an ounce range.

"Coming closer to the end of the year and two FOMC meetings in a month and half, which could determine the direction of monetary policy, is what has been keeping gold rangebound," Capital Economics analyst Simona Gambarini said.

Wall Street held onto modest gains on Wednesday, while the dollar recovered against a basket of major currencies. Oil prices retreated. [MKTS/GLOB] [FRX/] [O/R]

Traders also awaited U.S. President Donald Trump's tax plan, which Republicans plan to release Thursday morning.

Elsewhere, silver <XAG=> rose 2.7 percent to $17.148, after reaching $17.195, the strongest since Oct. 20, while platinum <XPT=> climbed 2.06 percent to $934.10 an ounce after touching $937.30, the highest since Oct. 16.

Palladium <XPD=> surged 2.2 percent at $1,001.75 an ounce, the strongest since Oct. 16.

The metal rose nearly 5 percent in October and touched a 16-year peak of $1,010.50 an ounce mid-month.

(Additional reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru and Eric Onstad in London; Editing by David Evans and Tom Brown)