Gold prices up slightly in early Asian trade following U.S. gains

Gold prices rose marginally in Asia on Thursday following overnight gains after the minutes from the Federal Reserve's March policy meeting revealed that U.S. monetary authorities voted unanimously to scrap a threshold calling for rate hikes once the unemployment rate hits 6.5%.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for June delivery traded at $1,311.80 a troy ounce, up 0.45%, after an overnight session low of $1,301.20 and off a high of $1,315.40.

The Federal Reserve Board of Governors unanimously voted to scrap its 6.5% threshold at which interest rates would rise once the unemployment rate hits 6.5%.

In the past, the Fed had indicated rates could rise when the unemployment rate hits or approaches 6.5% provided that figure accompanied a 2.5% inflation rate.

Today, the headline unemployment rate stands at 6.7%, not far from the previous threshold, though inflation remains well below 2.5%, prompting the Federal Reserve to do away with its rate-hike target.

'Participants agreed that the existing forward guidance, with its reference to a 6.5% threshold for the unemployment rate, was becoming outdated as the unemployment rate continued its expected gradual decline,' the minutes read.

'Most participants felt that the quantitative thresholds had been very useful in communicating policy intentions when employment was far from mandate-consistent levels, but, with the economy having moved appreciably closer to maximum employment, the forward guidance should emphasize that the Committee is focusing more on a broader set of economic indicators.'

Gold prices rose on the news while the dollar softened, as Fed Chair Janet Yellen stating that policy must remain accommodative for some time to come, and the March policy meeting minutes reflected that stance.

Meanwhile, silver for May delivery rose 0.52% at US$19.873 a troy ounce, while copper futures for May delivery fell 0.05% at US$3.046 a pound.