* Spot gold firmed 0.1% to $1,718.97 per ounce, by 0041 GMT, while U.S. gold futures dipped 0.1% to $1,716.70.
* Wall Street equities fell and U.S. Treasuries rallied on Tuesday, a day before a likely Federal Reserve rate hike as investors grappled with growing economic concerns with signs of a looming gas supply crisis in Europe. [MKTS/GLOB]
* The U.S. central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates by another 75 basis points at the conclusion of its policy meeting on Wednesday.
* Higher interest rates and bond yields increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.
* The dollar eased slightly after a sharp rise on Tuesday. A weaker dollar helps gold’s appeal among buyers holding other currencies. [USD/]
* U.S. consumer confidence dropped to a near 1-1/2-year low in July amid persistent worries about increasing inflation and higher rates, which could undercut spending, pointing to slower economic growth at the start of the third quarter.
* The global economy is in the grips of a serious slowdown, with some key economies at high risk of recession and only sparse meaningful cooling in inflation over the next year, according to Reuters polls of economists.
* Spot silver rose 0.4% to $18.68 per ounce, platinum gained 0.3% to $876.22, and palladium firmed 0.4% to $2,017.56.