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Gold settles lower on renewed Fed taper jitters

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Gold settled lower near $1,315 an ounce on Friday on expectations that the partial U.S. government shutdown will lead the Federal Reserve to postpone tapering of its stimulus program.

The U.S. Congress's last-minute agreement to increase its borrowing capacity till early next year averted a historic debt default, but critics said it was only postponing the problem.

Dealers also speculated that the damage to the economy from the weeks-long shutdown could stop the Federal Reserve scaling back its stimulus program until at least early next year.

"We're now focusing on two things: the next time we'll have a debate on the (debt ceiling) issue, which is February, and tapering,'' Citi analyst David Wilson said. "The debate has moved on from if to when (tapering will happen), so that will be continually factored into the gold price.''

Chart: Precious Metals

"Right now, I think gold's a sell,'' he said. "I would think the trading range we had in the five or six days before (Thursday) is one we'll go back to.''

Spot gold dropped 0.4 percent to $1,314 an ounce, while for December delivery settled $8.40 lower at $1,314.60 an ounce.

The metal leaped 3 percent on Thursday after the deal to re-open the U.S. government and a downgrade to the country's sovereign rating by a Chinese rating agency knocked the dollar, prompting a rush among over-extended shorts to cover.

Gold's 20 percent drop this year has largely been due to speculation that the Fed's $85 billion monthly bond-buying scheme—which had driven gold higher by keeping a lid on interest rates while stoking inflation fears—will be tapered.

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