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By Sherin Elizabeth Varghese

(Reuters) – Gold prices rose for a sixth straight session on Wednesday, supported by a weaker dollar and safe-haven buying, ahead of the minutes from the U.S. central bank’s latest policy meeting.

Spot gold rose 0.4% at $2,030.7 per ounce, as of 0411 GMT- its highest since Feb. 9.

U.S. gold futures edged 0.1% higher to $2,041.3 per ounce.

The dollar index extended losses for the third straight day, turning the greenback-priced bullion more appealing to overseas buyers. [USD/]

“The dollar index has come down a bit, so it’s supporting gold prices and we are experiencing some safe-haven buying as well due to rising tensions in the Middle East,” Jigar Trivedi, a senior analyst at Reliance Securities, said.

The Iran-aligned Houthis persisted in their attacks on shipping lanes in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait, with at least four more vessels hit by drone and missile strikes since Friday.

“All eyes are on the Fed’s meeting minutes and it is expected that gold prices will remain on the higher side,” Reliance’s Trivedi said.

The minutes of the Fed’s January policy meeting, expected at 1900 GMT, could offer more insights into the timing of widely expected interest rate cuts.

The Fed will likely lower the federal funds rate in June, according to a narrow majority of economists polled by Reuters. The bigger risk is that the first rate cut may occur later than forecast, rather than earlier.

Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding bullion.

Despite acknowledging “remarkable” progress on U.S. inflation, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President Mary Daly said “there is more work to do” to ensure stable prices. Another Fed official cautioned against delaying rate cuts for too long.

Spot platinum was up 0.4% at $904.75 per ounce, palladium rose 0.8% to $982.59 and silver gained 0.7% to $23.14 per ounce.

(Reporting by Sherin Elizabeth Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil)

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