Gold steadied on Thursday near an eight-month high touched earlier this week, as the U.S. dollar and Treasury yields dipped on less hawkish-than-feared Federal Reserve minutes, and as the Ukraine crisis boosted demand for the safe-haven metal.
* Spot gold held its ground at $1,868.36 per ounce, as of 0123 GMT. Bullion had hit its highest level since June at $1,879.48 on Tuesday.
* U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,871.40.
* Oil and gold prices rose on Wednesday after NATO and the United States said Russia was increasing its troop build-up near Ukraine, while dovish Fed minutes helped stocks close mostly flat on Wall Street.
* Fed officials last month agreed that with inflation tightening its grip on the economy and employment strong, it was time to raise interest rates, but also that any decisions would depend on a meeting-by-meeting analysis of inflation and other data, according to the minutes of the Jan. 25-26 policy meeting.
* The dollar eased after the minutes suggested policymakers are not set on a particular pace of interest rate hikes, making gold more attractive to overseas buyers.
* A dip in U.S. Treasury yields decreased the opportunity cost of holding non-interest-paying bullion.
* U.S. retail sales increased by the most in 10 months in January, lifting the level of sales to a record high amid a surge in purchases of motor vehicles and other goods, but higher prices could limit the boost to economic growth this quarter.
* Among other precious metals, spot silver was flat at $23.54 per ounce and palladium rose 0.2% to $2,284.19.
* Platinum dipped 0.5% to $1,056.53, easing off a three-month high touched in the previous session.
(Reporting by Bharat Govind Gautam in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips) ((BharatGovind.Gautam@thomsonreuters.com; +91-80-6182-3021/ 3590 (If within U.S. call 651-848-5832 );))