PRECIOUS-Gold drops for fourth session, Fed uncertainty persists
* Fed official says tapering still possible this year
* SPDR inflows drop again, physical demand weak
* Dollar firms against basket of currencies
(Updates throughout, changes dateline from SINGAPORE)
LONDON, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Gold dipped for a fourth consecutive session on Tuesday as the dollar firmed and a lack of clarity over U.S. monetary and fiscal policy dented demand for the precious metal.
The Federal Reserve surprised markets last week by sticking with its $85 billion in monthly asset purchases, confounding expectations for a $10-billion cut from September
That triggered gains of around 4 percent in the gold price but the metal has since retreated, falling 3.2 percent over the past three sessions on renewed worries that the Fed will start cutting its monthly bond purchases, as soon as next month.
New York Fed President William Dudley said on Monday that the U.S. central bank should could still reduce its support for the economy later this year, while St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said that stimulus could be scaled back in October depending on economic data.
"Gold continues to trade with global risk assets, which means that lack of investor appetite is still driving the market," VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov said.
"I think by year-end the market will be more sure of the macroeconomic situation, because tightening will be looming and will be possibly quicker than initially thought."
Spot gold was down 0.4 percent at $1,317.10 an ounce by 0956 GMT.
"On the topside for gold we have the 50 and 100-day moving averages converging at $1,345 which should prove fairly stubborn resistance and on the downside $1,290-$1,300 should prove solid support," MKS Capital trader Alex Thorndike said in a note.
Worries that money printing by central banks to buy assets will stoke inflation have helped boost the price of gold, usually seen as an inflation-hedge. The metal rallied to an 11-month high last October after the Fed announced its third round of aggressive economic stimulus.
Also weighing on the market on Tuesday was a slightly firmer dollar against a basket of currencies, which makes gold and other commodities priced in the U.S. currency more expensive for buyers in other countries.
WEAK PHYSICAL DEMAND
Gold premiums across Asia remained weak due to subdued physical demand ahead of what is typically a strong buying period for top consumers India and China as they head into wedding and festival seasons.
"You don't expect China physical demand to pick up at this point and India is still awaiting more clarity on the imports' rules," VTB's Kryuchenkov said.
Moves by India to cut gold imports as it wrestles with its ballooning current account deficit are keeping buyers at bay.
Gold importers in India are hoping that stocks lying at airports will get customs clearance by Tuesday, following a meeting with government officials last week, before they ship more for exporters ahead of the Christmas season.
Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, have been falling again after a brief burst of inflows in August.
In other precious metals, silver fell 0.7 percent to $21.48 an ounce.
Spot platinum rose 0.2 percent to $1,418.49 an ounce and spot palladium edged down 0.1 percent to $711 an ounce.
South Africa's Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) said on Tuesday its members at Anglo American Platinum will go on strike after the company said it will cut jobs.
(Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by Susan Fenton)