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PRECIOUS-Gold steadies as equities dip; markets eye Fed minutes

Brijesh Patel

* Minutes of U.S. Fed meeting due at 1800 GMT

* SPDR Gold holdings rise 0.4% on Tuesday

* Platinum dips to three-month low (Adds comments, updates prices)

May 22 (Reuters) - Gold steadied on Wednesday, inching up off a two-week low, as stock markets slid on fresh trade tensions, while a strong U.S. dollar capped bullion's gains ahead of the release of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's last monetary policy meeting.

Spot gold edged up 0.1% to $1,275.69 per ounce as of 11:57 a.m. EDT (1557 GMT), having fallen to its lowest level since May 3 on Tuesday at $1,268.97.

U.S. gold futures were 0.2% higher at $1,275.20 an ounce.

"We have global growth concerns relating to trade frictions between the U.S. and China and expectations of lower interest rates down the year, but at the same time, the dollar is stronger, which is not supportive for gold," said Jeff Klearman, portfolio manager at GraniteShares.

Global financial markets fell as a reprieve in U.S. trade restrictions on China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd was countered by reports the White House is considering sanctions on Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said U.S. officials were not currently scheduled to go to Beijing for the next round of trade negotiations a day after Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said that Beijing was still open for talks.

Limiting flows into bullion, the dollar index firmed near a one-month peak, supported by higher U.S. Treasury yields after Washington temporarily eased trade restrictions imposed last week on Chinese telecom equipment firm Huawei.

Markets are looking to the release of the minutes, at 2:00 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), of the Fed's latest meeting, for possible clues on the interest rate outlook.

Earlier this week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said it would be premature to make a judgement about the impact of trade and tariffs on monetary policy.

"There would be no major news out of the Fed minutes. I don't think the minutes are going to say that the Fed has changed its policy of being patient and flexible," Klearman added.

Lower interest rates decrease the opportunity cost of holding nonyielding bullion and weigh on the dollar, making gold cheaper for investors holding other currencies.

Meanwhile, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.4% to 739.69 tonnes on Tuesday.

However, holdings have declined nearly 7% so far this year, indicating subdued investor interest in bullion.

On the technical side, spot gold may now test support at $1,264 per ounce, a break below which could open the way towards $1,244, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Among other precious metals, silver was up 0.2% at $14.47 per ounce, while palladium edged 0.1% lower to $1,317.80.

Platinum slipped 1% to $805.85 an ounce, having touched its lowest since Feb. 18 at $800 earlier in the session.

(Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum)