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Gold rebounds after ECB launches QE program

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Gold erased earlier losses on Thursday after the European Central Bank launched a multi-billion euro bond-buying program aimed at reviving a sagging euro zone economy.

President Mario Draghi said the ECB would print money to buy up 60 billion euros ($69 billion) worth of sovereign bonds a month in the euro zone, where inflation at minus 0.2 percent is far below the central bank's target of just under 2 percent.

He said inflation was expected to increase gradually later in 2015 and in 2016 as the ECB's monetary policy measures support demand and assuming a gradual increase in oil prices.

Gold is usually seen as a hedge against inflationary concerns.

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"Gold is reacting to what Draghi has to say, to the bigger package that was announced and to rebounding inflation expectations in the euro zone," ABN Amro analyst Georgette Boele said.

Spot gold, which had fallen as much as 1 percent to a session low of $1,279.5 in early trade, turned positive, up 0.6 percent at $1,301 an ounce, after Draghi's announcement. It had climbed to its highest since Aug. 15 at $1,305 on Wednesday, before falling back below $1,300.

U.S. gold futures for delivery in February also moved higher, up $6 at $1,298 an ounce,

The metal has risen around 10 percent since the beginning of the month, underpinned by higher demand for assets perceived as safer, mostly driven by economic and political uncertainties in the euro zone.

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The metal gained strongly in euro terms, with euro-denominated gold reaching its highest since April 2013 at 1,136, after Draghi's comments knocked the euro within reach of last week's 11-year low against the dollar.

"The implications for the euro of a two-year (bond-buying) programme beginning in March is quite negative and we could see more dollar strength," Mitsubishi Corp strategist Jonathan Butler said.

"That, by itself, would be a headwind for gold but offsetting that ... there would be further safe-haven buying for gold in both euro and dollar terms."

The recent steep climb in gold prices has however worried some investors, who started to take profits in the previous session and were looking at Sunday's snap election in Greece and next week's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) two-day policy meeting for clues about the wider macro economic environment.

The SPDR Gold Trust, the world's top gold-backed exchange-traded fund, saw outflows of 0.24 percent to 740.45 tonnes on Wednesday, after posting its biggest inflow since August 2012 earlier in the week.