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Gold was up on Wednesday morning in Asia. Investors turned towards the safe-haven yellow metal as increasing concerns about the latest COVID-19 outbreaks decreased their risk appetite.

Gold futures edged up 0.19% to $1,791.15 by 12:30 AM ET (4:30 AM GMT).

“The elephant in the room is this COVID-19 Delta variant and whether it does materially affect the global recovery. In that situation, gold is likely to find more haven buying,” Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at OANDA, told Reuters.

In Asia Pacific, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand left its interest rate unchanged at 0.25% as it handed down its policy decision earlier in the day. New Zealand’s first local COVID-19 infection in six months forced the country into lockdown and put the brakes on the central bank’s plan to raise interest rates.

In other central bank news, the U.S. Federal Reserve will release the minutes from its July meeting later in the day. Investors will be searching for guidance on the Fed’s plans for asset tapering and interest rate hikes in the minutes.

“Gold’s fate will be decided by these Fed minutes and whether they signal imminent asset tapering in September. If that leads to a higher dollar and U.S. yields, gold is likely to fall back below $1,700,” Halley added.

Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said on Tuesday it could be “reasonable” to start asset tapering later in 2021, but this depends on the progress of the labor market’s recovery. However, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said on the same day that it remains unclear whether the recent COVID-19 Delta variant outbreaks will have a noticeable impact on the economy.

In other precious metals, silver gained 0.7%, and platinum jumped 1.3%. Palladium rose 1.2% after hitting a two-month low on Tuesday.

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