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Gold sets fifth straight weekly gain; ends $1,264

Friday, 24 Jan 2014 | 2:24 PM ET
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Gold settled higher on Friday as the dollar whipsawed and a global flight from emerging market assets set global stock markets on course for their worst week so far in 2014.

The U.S. currency remained wobbly after registering its biggest one-day drop in three months on Thursday.

Spot gold hovered near $1,265 an ounce, retreating after touching $1,272.70, its highest since mid-November.

U.S. gold futures for February delivery settled $2 higher at $1,264.3 an ounce, up 0.9 percent on the week. This is the first time since September 2012 that the metal has managed a weekly gain five weeks in a row.

"General sentiment on equity markets has been quite downbeat, but the biggest factor here by far is the dollar," said Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst at VTB Capital.

"There's still room for growth with more short-covering. The market could well push toward $1,280 and $1,290 before coming lower. Gold will come down before the Fed," he added, referring to next week's U.S. monetary policy meeting.

(Read more: Huge short squeeze could spike gold: Experts)

Gold prices had rallied more than 2 percent on Thursday as a drop in the dollar and a call from India's ruling party chief to review import restrictions on bullion prompted a spate of short-covering.

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But investors are still wary of a market that took its biggest tumble in more than 30 years in 2013.

The world's largest gold-backed ETF, New York's SPDR Gold Shares, said its holdings declined by 5.4 tons on Thursday, bringing its outflow for the week to 6.6 tons. It logged its first weekly inflow since early November last week.

Chinese demand eased, with premiums on the Shanghai Gold Exchange dropping to $10 an ounce from $12 the previous day. China in 2013 took over from India as the world's leading consumer of gold jewelry, data from metals consultancy Thomson Reuters GFMS showed.

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