By Peter Hobson
LONDON (Reuters) - Gold prices remained locked just below $1,300 an ounce on Tuesday as investors waited for clues on the pace of U.S. interest rate rises from a Federal Reserve meeting this week.
A Fed statement and press conference expected from 1800 GMT on Wednesday could push gold out of the tight range of about $1,290 to $1,305, in which it has been trapped since mid-May.
Gold is highly sensitive to interest rates because higher rates push up bond yields, making non-yielding gold less attractive, and tend to strengthen the dollar, increasing the cost of gold for buyers using other currencies.
Investors expect the Fed to increase rates on Wednesday but will be looking for hints at future policy. A more aggressive stance on monetary tightening would hurt gold.
Gold prices have tended to fall ahead of previous rate rises but recover afterwards, he said. "We're still erring towards the potential for a move higher here."
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Spot gold fell by 0.2 percent to $1,297.31 an ounce by 1328 GMT, while U.S. gold futures for August delivery dropped 0.2 percent to $1,301.10.
U.S. bond yields had edged higher and the dollar was flat against a basket of major currencies.
Adding to the wait-and-see mood were expectations that the European Central Bank will signal a winding down of its vast bond-buying programme at a meeting on Thursday. This would be likely to help gold by boosting the euro and weakening the dollar.
Japan's central bank will also meet on June 14-15.
The joint statement signed at the end of a summit in Singapore gave few details on how that goal would be achieved.
Gold is traditionally used as a safe place to invest during times of uncertainty, and growing tensions over Korea have added to demand.
In other precious metals, silver was down 0.2 percent at $16.85 an ounce after hitting a seven-week high of $16.95 on Monday.
Platinum rose by 0.2 percent to $905.60 and palladium dipped by 0.1 percent to $1,020.72.
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