PRECIOUS-Gold holds steady as investor focus shifts to U.S. Fed minutes

Bernadette Baum)

(Adds analyst comments, updates prices)

* Wall Street's key stock indices open lower

* Fed minutes due 1900 GMT

* Trade deal could push gold down below $1,450- analyst

Nov 20 (Reuters) - Gold steadied on Wednesday, having touched a two-week high earlier in the session on souring U.S.-China trade relations, as investors awaited further clues on the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy from the minutes of its October meeting.

Spot gold were little changed at $1,471.98 per ounce

as of 10:18 a.m. ET (1518 GMT), having touched a two-week high of $1,478.80 earlier in the session.

U.S. gold futures dropped 0.1% to 1,472.30 per

ounce. "Every time there are talks about trade discussions, you see this knee jerk reaction (in gold)... I am surprised gold is not getting much of a boost (from lower equities). It must be in preparation for the Fed minutes," said Phillip Streible, senior commodities strategist at RJO Futures. The mood in markets soured after the U.S. Senate angered China by passing a bill requiring annual certification of Hong Kong's autonomy and warning Beijing against violently suppressing protesters. China demanded the United States stop interfering in its internal affairs and said it would retaliate.

U.S. President Donald Trump also threatened to raise tariffs on Chinese goods if a trade deal is not reached soon.

Uncertainty surrounding the "phase one" trade deal has prompted world stocks to fall from a 22-month peak, with Wall Street opening lower. "I think gold fundamentals are kind of weak. It feels like a trade agreement could really threaten gold back below $1,450 all the way down to $1,400," Streible said. Focus now turns to the release of minutes from the Fed's most recent policy meeting. The central bank cut interest rates for the third time this year in October. Market participants will peruse "the minutes for clues on the timing of the next monetary policy move by the Fed," Kitco Metals senior analyst Jim Wyckoff said in a note. "Past FOMC minutes releases have seen markets make significant price moves in their aftermath. Such cannot be ruled out for today's minutes' release." Fed officials have hinted there will be no further easing for now, a message the U.S. central bank may reiterate later in the day when it releases the minutes.

Among other precious metals, silver eased 0.1% to$17.12 an ounce, while platinum gained 0.4% to $913.46.Palladium was up 0.5% to $1,771.51 an ounce.

(Reporting by Karthika Suresh Namboothiri in Bengaluru; Editing