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Gold settles under $1,330 on US shutdown worries

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Gold futures settled lower on Monday, but were heading for their best quarterly performance in a year, despite fading support from a possible U.S. government shutdown, but the outlook remained weak due to the inevitable tapering of monetary stimulus.

Bullion has gained around 7.5 percent since July, but analysts noted that this performance came from a low base following a spectacular crash in the previous quarter, which included the biggest two-day drop in 30 years.

Spot gold was last down 0.5 percent to $1,329 an ounce after a 1-percent gain on Friday, while U.S gold futures settled $12.20 lower at $1,327 an ounce. Activity was thin as a number of market participants were attending an industry conference.

"I think that people realize that this little rally we had ... is not going to provide any lasting support for gold," said Jesper Dannesboe, senior commodity strategist for Societe Generale.

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"I think that this rally we saw was used by investors to sell and continue to get out of their positions," he added.

Investors were alert to the possibility of a U.S. shutdown after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a measure that ties government funding to a one-year delay of President Barack Obama's landmark health-care restructuring law.

If a stop-gap spending bill for the new fiscal year is not passed before midnight on Monday, government agencies and programs deemed non-essential will begin closing their doors for the first time in 17 years.

But the momentum created by shutdown concerns faded by early afternoon in Europe.

"It is definitely a short-term phenomenon. The sentiment towards gold is still expected to be bearish for the full year," said Barnabas Gan, an analyst at OCBC Bank in Singapore.

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