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Gold ends above $1,350, with a little help from the Fed

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Gold settled higher on Friday, still set for a second week of gains on the view that sluggish U.S. data would persuade the Federal Reserve to keep its stimulus intact until well into 2014.

Spot gold edged up 0.4 percent to $1,351 an ounce, while for December delivery settled $2.20 higher at $1,352.50 an ounce.

Bullion was headed for a 1.7 percent gain on the week having hit four-week highs on Thursday benefiting from weaker-than-expected U.S. jobless claims data earlier in the week.

That bolstered expectations the Fed will not start to rein its stimulus program until well into next year.

Chart: Precious Metals

After 12 years of gains, gold has fallen nearly 20 percent this year on concerns the Fed would begin cutting back its easy-money policy by trimming its $85 billion monthly bond purchases, which have fueled gold's appeal as a hedge against inflation.

The metal, however, has rallied around 8 percent in less than two weeks as disappointing U.S. economic data and lingering budget uncertainties in Washington increased gold's safe-haven appeal.

As a gauge of investor sentiment, holdings in the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, New York's SPDR Gold Shares, fell 0.2 percent or 1.8 tons on Thursday. An outflow of more than 10 tons was seen on Monday followed by an increase of 6 tons on Tuesday.

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