MTECHTIPS- Gold prices drifted lower in early Asia on Wednesday as the market gears up for remarks this week from Fed Chair Janet Yellen as expectations for a December rate hike remain strong. Gold for December delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange eased 0.05% to $1,227.40 a troy ounce. Earlier, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer on Tuesday said liquidity conditions in markets have changed as a result of tighter capital requirements enacted after the global financial crisis, but said the benefits of enhanced financial stability may outweigh the potential costs. Overnight, gold futures erased overnight gains in North American trading on Tuesday, falling back towards a six-month low after data showed that U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in October, boosting optimism over the health of the economy. The U.S. Commerce Department said that retail sales rose 0.8% last month, compared to expectations for a 0.6% increase. September retail sales increased 1.0%, whose figure was revised from an initial 0.6% rise. Core retail sales, which exclude automobile sales, increased 0.8% in October, compared to forecasts for an advance of 0.5%. Core sales in September were revised to a 0.7% advance from the prior 0.5% gain. A separate report showed that an index of New York-area manufacturing conditions turned positive in November for the first time in four months. The Empire Fed index rose 8.3 points to 1.5, on a scale where any reading above zero indicates improving conditions, the New York Fed said Tuesday. The data comes after reports earlier this month showed a rapidly tightening labor market and signs of a recovery in the manufacturing sector, underscoring the economy’s strength at the start of the fourth quarter.