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Gold settled lower on Friday, paring the rally it made after the Federal Reserve's surprise decision this week to maintain monetary stimulus, after a Fed official hinted tapering may yet be unveiled at the bank's October meeting.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Friday that the U.S. central bank could still scale back its massive bond buying program when it meets on Oct. 29-30, should data point to a stronger economy.
Gold leapt on Wednesday after the Fed said it would not curb its $85 billion monthly bond-buying program, which has boosted gold by keeping interest rates low and fueling concerns over inflation. The metal has struggled to build on those gains, however, and Bullard's comments knocked it sharply lower.
Spot gold was down 2.8 percent to $1,333 an ounce. for December delivery settled $36.80 lower at $1,332.50 an ounce.
"Though the Fed didn't deliver the widely expected tapering, investors are convinced that this move is only postponed," Alexander Zumpfe, a trader at Heraeus, said. "That obviously weighs on fresh buying interest."
World stocks retreated on Friday but remained near this week's five-year highs, while bond markets consolidated after the major gains that followed the Fed's decision to keep its stimulus measures unchanged.
The dollar touched a one-week high against the yen after Bullard's comments and as investors unwound some negative trades put on after the Fed announcement, adding pressure to gold.
"Tapering may not have been announced on Wednesday, but it is coming," Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar said.
"Bond yields will carry on going up, and the opportunity cost of holding gold will continue rising. Equity markets are soaring. Those speculators who are piling into gold ... are losing out on gains in other markets."