Gold hits 3-week peak as Fed's dovish tone pressures dollar, yields

* Fed committed to support economy until recovery more secure

* Markets eye Powell's speech at IMF conference

* Silver hits over two-week peak (Updates prices)

By Sumita Layek

April 8 (Reuters) - Gold scaled a three-week peak on Thursday after minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting reassured investors that interest rates will remain low for some time, pushing the dollar and U.S. yields lower.

Spot gold XAU= rose 0.5% to $1,746.21 per ounce by 1213 GMT, having earlier hit a high since March 18 at $1,751. U.S. gold futures GCv1 gained 0.5% to $1,750.20.

"The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) are clearly committed to maintaining a very dovish policy, which has helped put some downward pressure on the dollar and yields and is helping gold," said independent analyst Ross Norman.

"It's quite clear that the Fed feels that the unemployment situation is still difficult, and they will resist any temptations to edge rates higher in the interim."

Fed policymakers remain wary about the ongoing risks of the coronavirus pandemic and are eager to reach employment and inflation goals, minutes of the U.S. central bank's latest policy meeting showed on Wednesday.

The dollar .DXY fell against major rivals, while benchmark Treasury yields also eased, making gold more affordable as well as appealing compared with alternative investments like bonds.

Easy monetary policy tends to weigh on government bond yields, increasing the appeal of non-yielding gold.

However, despite the Fed's assurance, expectations of a sooner than expected rate hike were making rounds.

"Investors are expecting the Fed will have to hike interest rates as early as January 2022 as it becomes a huge task once inflation starts going out of control," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

Market participants now await Fed Chair Jerome Powell's speech at a virtual International Monetary Fund conference later on Thursday.

Silver XAG= rose 0.8% to $25.33 per ounce, having hit a more than two-week peak of $25.48. Palladium XPD= added 0.2% to $2,628.20, while platinum XPT= climbed 0.4% to $1,230.56.
Reporting by Sumita Layek and Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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