PRECIOUS-Gold firms as dollar loses ground post Fed verdict

* Dollar eases off one-month peak

* Evergrande deal limits safe-haven demand - analyst

* Fed says will likely begin tapering by as soon as November (Adds comments, updates prices)

By Arundhati Sarkar

Sept 23 (Reuters) - Gold firmed on Thursday as the dollar gave up some gains that were driven by the U.S. central bank signalling faster-than-expected interest rate hikes, but receding fears over the Evergrande crisis limited interest for safe-haven bullion.

Spot gold was 0.3% higher at $1,772.62 per ounce by 1213 GMT, while U.S. gold futures fell 0.3% to $1,773.80.

The dollar retreated from a one-month high as investors processed the outcome of this week's Federal Reserve meeting and subsequent statement by Fed chair Jerome Powell that a tapering of stimulus https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/investors-look-ahead-rate-hikes-with-fed-tapering-plan-all-certain-2021-09-23 measures was not far away.

Gold has stabilized as Powell didn't give any firm dates for the beginning of tapering or raising interest rates, cancelling the dollar's gains, said Ricardo Evangelista, senior analyst at ActivTrades.

But "until something more concrete happens in terms of direction for the dollar, gold will be impacted more by the level of risk appetite or risk aversion," he added.

A weaker dollar bolsters gold's appeal for those holding other currencies.

Meanwhile, risk appetite improved on the back of some positive news from China's cash-strapped developer Evergrande Group https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-evergrande-inches-close-default-deadline-investors-wait-2021-09-21, capping gold's advance.

The Fed statement did not surprise investors, but once reductions in asset purchases start, gold could face moderate headwinds, with prices moving towards $1,700 or even lower, said Xiao Fu, head of commodities markets strategy at Bank of China International.

Gold is considered a hedge against higher inflation and geopolitical uncertainties, but a Fed rate hike would increase the opportunity cost of holding gold, which pays no interest.

"Higher rates usually do impact gold negatively, (but)investors will almost have a foot in gold's door as a precaution given the continuing bubble in the equities and bond market," said Vincent Tie, sales manager at Singapore dealer, Silver Bullion.

Silver rose 0.1% to $22.69 per ounce, while platinum fell 1% to $987.30 per ounce.

Palladium was down 1.8% to $1,987.12. (Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru Editing by Mark Potter)

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