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Gold ends about 2% lower as equities, dollar rally

AP

Gold prices settled nearly 2 percent lower on Thursday as a pullback in the Federal Reserve's stimulus program and an equities rally on robust U.S. growth data prompted bullion investors to take profits.

Signs of stabilization after a sharp emerging market selloff, which had boosted gold prices earlier this week, also hit gold's safe-haven appeal.

The U.S. dollar strengthened and the S&P 500 stock market index rose more than 1 percent after data showed that robust household spending and rising exports sparked a 3.2 percent annual-rate growth in the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter.

(Watch: Gold and bonds look ready to rally: Pro)

"The broad markets are quite volatile right now, so I wouldn't overinterpret too much about short-term actions into a long-term trend for the gold market," said Axel Merk, portfolio manager at California-based Merk Funds, which has about $400 million in currency mutual-fund assets.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
Volume
GOLD
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GOLD/USD
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SILV/USD
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SILVER
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PALL/USD
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PLAT/USD
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Spot gold plunged 1.8 percent to $1,244 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures for February delivery ended 1.6 percent lower at $1,242 an ounce.

Bullion stayed heavy after jobless claims rose by more than expected and U.S. growth slowed in the fourth quarter.

Prices gained nearly 1 percent on Wednesday, when analysts said the Fed's move to taper had already been fully discounted ahead of the announcement, while the central bank's failure to address economic uncertainty was also seen as potentially benefiting safe haven assets like gold.

SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, saw a rare inflow of fresh investment on Wednesday with holdings increasing by 2.10 tonnes to 792.56 tonnes. But that figure is still near a five-year low.

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