Feb 22 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged up on Thursday supported by safe-haven demand amid rising geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and a softer dollar, while minutes of the latest U.S. Federal Reserve meeting dampened hopes for an early interest rate cut.


* Spot gold was up 0.1% at $2,026.9 per ounce, as of 0100 GMT. U.S. gold futures edged 0.1% up at $2,035.8 per ounce.

* Israel intensified its bombardment of Rafah in Gaza's south, as the ruined Palestinian enclave's health ministry announced 29,313 deaths in the war so far.

* The dollar index was down 0.1%, making greenback-priced bullion more affordable to overseas buyers.

* January inflation data, with consumer prices rising faster than anticipated, complicate upcoming Fed rate decisions, Richmond Fed president Thomas Barkin said.

* The bulk of policymakers at the Fed's last meeting were concerned about the risks of cutting interest rates too soon, according to minutes of the Jan. 30-31 session.

* Markets are currently pricing in a 70% chance of a cut in June, according to the CME Fed Watch Tool. Lower interest rates boost the appeal of holding non-yielding bullion.

* Copper and gold are expected to see the largest immediate price boost in the commodities sector from potential U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate cuts, analysts at Goldman Sachs said.

* Spot platinum was up 0.2% at $885.08 per ounce, palladium rose 0.5% at $954.68, while silver was up 0.2% at $22.90 per ounce. DATA/EVENTS (GMT) 0500 Japan Chain Store Sales YY Jan 0745 France Business Climate Mfg, Overall Feb 0815 France HCOB Mfg, Serv, Comp Flash PMIs Feb 0830 Germany HCOB Mfg, Serv, Comp Flash PMIs Feb 0900 EU HCOB Mfg, Serv, Comp Flash PMIs Feb 0930 UK Flash Comp, Mfg, Serv PMIs Feb 1000 EU HICP Final MM, YY Jan 1330 US Initial Jobless Clm Weekly 1445 US S&P Global Mfg, Svcs, Comp Flash PMIs Feb 1500 US Existing Home Sales Jan (Reporting by Sherin Elizabeth Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)