Gold little changed as investors strap in for U.S. inflation data

* U.S. inflation data due at 1230 GMT

* Gold market is close to pricing in a 75 bps rate hike - analyst (Updates prices)

By Arundhati Sarkar

Aug 10 (Reuters) - Gold prices were little changed on Wednesday as caution set in ahead of key U.S. inflation data that could influence the pace of Federal Reserve interest rate hikes.

Spot gold XAU= edged 0.2% lower to $1,790.50 per ounce by 1142 GMT, but traded in a relatively narrow $8.36 range.

U.S. gold futures GCv1 fell 0.4% to $1,805.10.

Bullion hit its highest since July 5 at $1,800.29 on Tuesday.

"If numbers confirm that inflation is set to ease, that could reduce the potential for peak U.S. interest rates," and eventually support gold, said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen, attributing slight pressure on prices earlier in the session to profit-taking.

But the gold market is close to pricing in a 75 bps rate hike in the September meeting, and any deviations from that would impact prices, Hansen added.

Economists polled by Reuters expect U.S. annual inflation to have eased to 8.7% last month from 9.1% in June. Core inflation is expected at 0.5% month on month USCPF=ECI . The data is due at 1230 GMT.

Although gold is considered a hedge against inflation, recession risks and political uncertainties, higher U.S. interest rates dull the appeal of non-yielding bullion.

"Today's inflation number could set the tone for the markets for the rest of the month," OANDA analyst Craig Erlam said in a note.

"A lower than expected number could be a major tailwind for the markets, while anything around or above the June reading could trigger a big risk reversal... as the debate shifts to 75 or 100 basis points, with 50 left in the rearview mirror."

The Fed has hiked interest rates by 225 basis points since March as officials try to quash high inflation.

Elsewhere, spot silver XAG= fell 0.4% to $20.42 per ounce, platinum XPT= dropped 0.5% to $928.89, and palladium XPD= slipped 0.8% to $2,197.69.
Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey, Kirsten Donovan

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