By Katherine Dunn
Gold prices pushed higher on Wednesday as a weaker U.S. dollar helped give the precious metal a boost.
Gold for February delivery was recently up 0.3% at $1,165.10 a troy ounce in electronic trading on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The precious metal was little changed from the close of $1,165.30, as investors digested minutes from the Federal Reserve's December meeting that cited uncertainty over policy in 2017.
A weaker dollar helped propel gold prices higher on Wednesday. The WSJ Dollar Index, which weighs the dollar against a basket of other currencies, was recently down 0.6%. Gold is priced in dollars and becomes cheaper for foreign buyers when the U.S. currency weakens.
Looking to the new year, analysts point to the strength of the dollar and the pace of rate increases as the two major drivers for the gold price.
After raising interest rates in December, Fed officials said they expect to raise interest rates by a further 0.75 percentage point over the course of 2017. Those increases would likely be bearish for gold prices. Because gold doesn't bear interest, it struggles to compete with other investments as interest rates rise.
At the latest meeting, minutes released Wednesday show that officials noted that effect of the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump and new policy is still unclear. That may pose challenges for communicating the path of future rate increases to the public, Fed members said.
Ahead of the November election, analysts cited uncertainty under a Trump administration to be a boonfor gold prices. While prices fell following a Trump victory, economic and geopolitical risks may still help gold in 2017, some said.
"This is a man who is very unpredictable and, regardless of how business-friendly he may be, will keep the world on tenterhooks with his every tweet and utterance, and this I believe will give gold a boost from time to time," said David Govett, head of precious metals at Marex Spectron in London.
A series of contentious elections in the eurozone this year, including Germany and France, could also bring new political surprises and stoke safe-haven risks, according to analysts.
Stephanie Yang contributed to this article.
Write to Katherine Dunn at Katherine.Dunn@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 04, 2017 14:52 ET (19:52 GMT)
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