Gold hovers below three-week high amid firm dollar
* Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,282.31 an ounce at 0057 GMT, after hitting its highest since Dec. 1 at $1,283.72 in the previous session.
* U.S. gold futures were little changed at $1,287 an ounce.
* Oil prices were supported around a 2-1/2-year top on Wednesday after an explosion of a Libyan crude pipeline sparked supply fears, while gold and copper hovered near multi-week highs, boosting commodity- and energy-linked shares around Asia.
* The United States announced sanctions on two North Korean officials behind their country’s ballistic missile programme on Tuesday, while Russia reiterated an offer to mediate to ease tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.
* Russia is ready to act as a mediator between North Korea and the United States if both parties are willing for it to play such a role, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.
* Chinese industrial firms continued to ramp up production in the fourth quarter, a private survey on Wednesday showed, but growth in wages and hiring slowed in a further sign of cooling momentum in the world’s second-biggest economy.
* Japan’s households spent more than expected in November while consumer inflation ticked up and the jobless rate hit a fresh 24-year low, offering the central bank some hope an economic recovery will drive up inflation to its 2 percent target.