MTECHTIPS-Gold prices steadied below their highest level in about a year early on Thursday, as markets braced for the latest meeting of the European Central Bank for fresh clues on when it will start to shift away from its ultra-easy policy. The European Central Bank’s latest interest rate decision is due at 1145 GMT (7:45 AM ET), with no major policy changes expected. Most of the focus will be on President Mario Draghi’s press conference 45 minutes after the announcement, as investors look for more clues on when and how the ECB could start unwinding its massive quantitative easing program. Announcing new staff forecasts, policymakers will likely upgrade the ECB’s growth outlook and reduce inflation projections but only slightly. Having already expressed concern about the rise of the euro in July, policymakers may also repeat their warning about the currency moving too quick. Market experts believe the central bank is likely to wait until October before announcing a tapering of its €60 billion of monthly asset purchases. Comex gold futures were at $1,340.17 a troy ounce by 2:40 AM ET (0640 GMT), up $1.20, or around 0.1%. Prices remained within sight of their best level since Sept. 8, 2016 at $1,349.70, touched earlier this week.
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