Gold prices hold slightly higher in Asia ahead of U.S. Fed minutes

Gold prices in Asia Wednesday held gains as investors expressed geopolitical jitters and eyed the U.S. Federal Reserve for clues on the direction of the dollar

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for June delivery traded at $1,309.90 a troy ounce, up 0.06%, after hitting an overnight session high of $1,314.70 and up from a low of $1,296.80.

Overnight, gold prices rose as expectations that the minutes from the Federal Reserve's March policy meeting to be released Wednesday will reveal dovish language and a less-than-stellar take on U.S. recovery.

The dollar weakened and gold rose as investors avoided the U.S. currency ahead of the Fed’s March meeting, which should provide fresh insight as to the direction of monetary policy.

Escalating tensions in the Ukraine also chipped away at the dollar and boosted gold as well.

Gold firmed after pro-Russian activists in Ukraine’s industrial center of Donetsk declared their independence from Kiev, a move Ukrainian leaders described as part of a Russian-orchestrated plan to justify an invasion.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier that Russian agents were encouraging unrest in eastern Ukraine and said Moscow was preparing military action in the region.

Reports that Iraq's central bank is prepared to increase its gold holdings also added to the day's gains.

Elsewhere on the Comex, silver for May delivery was down 0.14% to 20.028 a troy ounce, while copper for May delivery was up 0.09% and trading at $3.056 a pound.