×

PRECIOUS-Gold prices hold steady, focus shifts to Fed meeting outcome

* Investors await Fed rate decision, 2018 outlook

* Spot gold may bounce to resistance at $1,250/oz -technicals

* U.S. stock futures, dollar fall as Democrat wins Alabama race

(Adds comment, updates prices) Dec 13 (Reuters) - Gold traded within a range on Wednesday after hitting the lowest in nearly five months in the previous session, with investors in a holding pattern ahead of the outcome of a two-day meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Spot gold was steady at $1,243.78 an ounce at 0427

GMT, after marking its lowest since July 20 at $1,235.92 in the previous session.

U.S. gold futures were up 0.3 percent at $1,245.60.

U.S. stock futures, Treasury yields and the dollar fell on Wednesday as Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore in a bitter U.S. Senate race in Alabama, dealing a political blow to Trump in a race marked by accusations of sexual misconduct against Moore. The win by Jones could be bullish for gold and bearish for the dollar, a Hong Kong-based trader said, adding that the recent dollar strength could yield some profit taking, in turn helping gold. "It's (gold) just consolidating here at the moment until the Federal Open Market Committee statement is out. We're expecting a rate hike," the trader said. The inflation data had helped lift the dollar to a four-week high on Tuesday, while gold dropped to its nearly five-month low, he said. The U.S. Fed has raised benchmark interest rates two times so far this year and analysts say a third hike is almost certain, by 25 basis points to between 1.25 and 1.50 percent, at the conclusion of its meeting later on Wednesday. Markets will also be focused on the U.S. central bank's statement for clues on any further rate increases in 2018. Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. rates as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced. Spot gold may bounce to a resistance at $1,250 per ounce before falling again, as it has stabilized around a support at $1,239, Reuters technicals analyst Wang Tao said.

In other precious metals, silver was down 0.1 percent

at $15.71 an ounce, trading near a five-month low of $15.61 hit overnight.

Platinum rose 0.2 percent to $878.20 an ounce, after

touching its lowest since February 2016 at $868.80 in the previous session.

Palladium was trading down 0.2 percent at $1,010.50

an ounce.

(Reporting by Apeksha Nair in BENGALURU; Editing by Joseph Radford and Tom Hogue)