Gold prices traded in a tight range on Wednesday as investors stayed away from taking big bets ahead of U.S. economic growth data this week, while expectations of slower interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve kept bullion's outlook bright.
Spot gold was steady at $1,937.09 per ounce, as of 0249 GMT, after hitting its highest since late April 2022 on Tuesday. U.S. gold futures were up 0.2% at $1,940.00.
Market focus is now on the fourth-quarter U.S. GDP data due on Thursday, which could set the tone for the Fed's Jan. 31-Feb. 1 policy meeting.
The market is not taking a clear direction ahead of the U.S. GDP data and the Fed meeting, said Ilya Spivak, head of global macro at Tastylive.
Most investors are expecting the Fed to raise rates by 25 basis points (bps) at its policy meeting next week. The U.S. central bank slowed its tightening pace to 50 bps last month after four straight 75-bp hikes.
With lower interest rates translating into lesser returns on interest-bearing assets like government bonds, investors may prefer zero-yield gold.
If there are signs that the U.S. economy is slowing and the Fed will soon slow its tightening pace and cut interest rates, then gold could gain, Spivak said.
"However, for prices to breach the $2,000 level, the U.S. dollar has to continue weakening," he added.
The dollar index slipped 0.1%. A weaker dollar tends to make greenback-priced gold more attractive for buyers holding other currencies.
Data showed on Tuesday Swiss exports of gold to countries including China, Turkey, Singapore and Thailand surged to multi-year highs in 2022.
Among other precious metals, spot silver dipped 0.2% to $23.62 per ounce and platinum lost 0.2% at $1,054.40. Palladium rose 0.1% to $1,745.38. (Reporting by Ashitha Shivaprasad in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Subhranshu Sahu)