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) --

Gold prices

were slightly higher amid a quiet trading session on Tuesday as investors paused a day ahead of the

Federal Reserve's

policy-making announcement.

Gold for June delivery at the COMEX division of the CME was gaining $6 to $1,473.40 an ounce. The

gold price traded as high as $1,479.50 and as low as $1,460.50 an ounce, while the spot price was slipping $2.10, according to Kitco's gold index.

"Ahead of the Fed meeting I think everybody's going to stay somewhat neutral; I don't expect any major changes one way or another," said Tom Power, senior commodities broker at RJO Futures. "It's just relatively flat ahead of the announcement and ... everybody's just looking for direction."

Silver prices

for July delivery were effectively unchanged at $24.18 an ounce, while the

U.S. dollar index

was losing 0.45% to $81.76.

The Fed on Tuesday started its two-day meeting to determine the federal funds rate target, and will make an announcement on Wednesday afternoon.

Economists aren't expecting a change in policy.

The March Federal Open Market Committee meeting revealed that a growing number of Fed members were opening up to the idea of scaling back the central bank's purchasing programs, but a raft of soft economic data in the past month has likely forced central bankers to change their minds, said Lance Roberts, chief economist at StreetTalk Advisors.

Roberts said it's unlikely that the Fed would announce any changes to its policy, but also said that if there is a surprise it would be more likely to be a hint at greater monetary easing. The possibility that Fed members implement more stimulus would be based on how seriously they believe the weak U.S. data is weighing on the economy.

Gold could receive a bump up if the Fed's message becomes more dovish than its previous meeting as continued monetary stimulus suggests the central bank is favoring inflationary policy. Investors often view gold as a hedge against inflation.

Gold mining stocks were mixed on Tuesday. Shares of

Newmont Mining


were plummeting 6.9%, while shares of

NovaGold Resources


were up 1.3%.

Among volume leaders,

Barrick Gold


was slipping 0.8%.

Gold ETF

SPDR Gold Trust


was ticking higher by 0.06% to $142.39, while

iShares Gold Trust


was climbing 0.14% to $14.31.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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