By Swati Verma
BENGALURU (Reuters) - Gold eased off multi-week highs on Thursday as minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting raised expectations of a faster pace of U.S. rate hikes, but concerns about possible U.S. military action against Syria limited losses.
After rising for four previous sessions, spot gold was down 0.2 percent at $1,350.70 an ounce as of 0319 GMT and U.S. gold futures fell 0.4 percent to $1,354.5 an ounce.
All of the Federal Reserve's policymakers felt that the U.S. economy would firm further and that inflation would rise in the coming months, minutes of the central bank's last policy meeting on March 20-21 released on Wednesday showed.
Higher interest rates discourage the buying of non-interest-paying bullion, which is priced in dollars.
Gold on Wednesday rose 1 percent and hit a high of $1,365.23 an ounce, its highest since Jan. 25.
"While we expect volatility to remain high, gold will stay supported so as long as U.S. military option remains on the table, gold will continue bid," said Stephen Innes, head of trading in Asia-Pacific for OANDA in Singapore.
"But we could see prices rocket higher if both the United States and Israel get drawn into the fracas siding with Saudi Arabia in Riyadh escalations with Tehran. A test of $1,400+ would be on the cards immediately."
U.S. President Donald Trump warned Russia on Wednesday of imminent military action in Syria over a suspected poison gas attack, declaring that missiles "will be coming" and lambasting Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Gold is often used as a store of value during times of financial or political uncertainty.
China will not hesitate to fight back if the United States escalates its trade spat with Beijing, the commerce ministry said on Thursday, asserting that Chinese President Xi Jinping's pledge to cut import tariffs is not a concession to Washington.
Among other precious metals, silver was steady at $16.63 an ounce, after hitting $16.87 in the previous session, a near two-month high.
Platinum gained 0.3 percent to $929 per ounce and palladium fell 0.5 percent to $959.72 per ounce.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)