Gold prices dropped in Asia on Thursday as China markets returned from holidays and investors stake positions ahead of Fed minutes later in the day. On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for December delivery fell 0.34% to $1,144.80, while silver futures for December delivery dropped 0.74% to $15.975 a troy ounce. Copper for December delivery fell 0.20% to $2.362 a pound. Investors await the release of the minutes from the Fed’s September meeting on Thursday for further hints on whether the U.S. central bank could raise short-term interest rates before the end of the year. Overnight, gold futures were relatively unchanged on Wednesday amid a flat dollar. Last month, the FOMC voted to leave its benchmark Federal Funds Rate at its current rate between zero and 0.25%, marking the 55th consecutive meeting it decided to keep the rate unchanged at a near-zero level. While one member of the FOMC, Richmond Fed president Jeffrey Lacker voted for an increase of 0.25%, four others felt that the Fed should wait until 2016 before raising short-term rates. By comparison in June, only two FOMC members were in favor of delaying a rate hike until next year.