Gold prices rise ahead of barrage of Fed speakers

New York (Feb 24)  Gold futures pushed higher in Europe trade on Wednesday, as market players awaited comments from a barrage of Federal Reserve officials later in the session for further clues on the path of future rate hikes.

Gold for April delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange tacked on $4.60, or 0.38%, to trade at $1,227.20 a troy ounce by 09:15GMT, or 4:15AM ET.

A day earlier, gold prices rallied $12.50, or 1.03%, as investors sought safer assets amid steep declines in oil prices and global stock markets.

Gold traders looked ahead to speeches from three Fed officials on Wednesday to judge the balance of opinion among policymakers on the prospect of further rate hikes.

Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker is scheduled to speak at 13:00GMT, or 8:00AM ET, while Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan is expected at 18:15GMT, or 13:15PM ET. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard is scheduled to give remarks at 7:00PM ET.

Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said Tuesday evening that it is "still early" to assess the implications of recent volatility in financial markets for the U.S. economy.

Gold prices have been well-supported in recent weeks amid growing speculation the Fed could delay the pace of its tightening for the remainder of 2016.

Prices of the yellow metal soared to a one-year high of $1,263.90 on February 11. Gold is up nearly 16% so far this year amid indications global economic and financial headwinds could make it tough for the Fed to raise interest rates as much as it would like this year.

Also on the Comex, silver futures for March delivery dipped 3.0 cents, or 0.2%, to trade at $15.21 a troy ounce during morning hours in London.

Elsewhere in metals trading, copper futures declined on Wednesday, but losses were limited amid mounting expectations for further stimulus measures from central banks in Europe and Asia.