- Gold prices held flat to weaker in Asia early Tuesday ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve minutes to be released later this week.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for June delivery traded at $1,293.50 a troy ounce. down 0.02%, after hitting an overnight session low of $1,289.60 and off a high of $1,305.70.

Overnight, gold rices rose in cautious tradiny as the dollar softened ahead of the release of the Federal Reserve''s April policy meeting minutes on Wednesday.

Investors avoided the dollar on Monday to digest last week''s mixed bag of economic indicators, which supported gold prices.

The preliminary Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index fell to 81.8 in May from 84.1 in April, confounding market expectations for a 84.5 reading, which softened the dollar.

On the flip side, the Census Bureau reported that U.S. building permits rose 8% to 1.080 million units last month, up from an upwardly revised 1.000 million in March. Analysts were expecting building permits to rise to 1.010 million units in April.

The report also showed that housing starts rose to 1.072 million units in April from 947,000 in March, whose figure was revised up from a previously estimated 946,000.

The Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its April policy meeting on Wednesday, and investors opted for safe-haven yen positions ahead of time, which weakened the dollar and gave the yellow metal room to rise.

Geopolitical concerns also softened the dollar by stoking concerns the U.S. may become deeper involved in the Ukraine crisis and risk seeing recovery suffer as a result.

Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern reaches of the country continued to clash on Monday, resulting in the death of one Ukrainian soldier.

Ukraine will hold elections on May 25, and concerns persist that Russia will meddle in the voting and escalate the crisis.

Elsewhere, tensions in Libya flared after gunmen stormed parliament on Sunday in some of the worst violence the country has seen since the 2011 war that ousted Muammar Qaddafi.

Silver for July delivery inched up 0.01% at $19.355 a troy ounce. Copper futures for July delivery rose 0.03% at $3.163 a pound.

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