Gold settled nearly 2 percent higher Thursday on physical buying, but investors remained unenthusiastic because of a brighter global economic outlook and speculation of an imminent end to the U.S. monetary stimulus.
Gold plunged 28 percent in 2013, ending a 12-year bull run, as the Federal Reserve announced plans to unwind ultra-loose monetary policy by trimming its monthly asset purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion a month. Quantitative easing has helped to drive gold prices higher in recent years, maintaining pressure on long-term interest rates and stoking inflation fears.
Price movements were still driven by low volumes in the New Year holiday week, analysts said.
Spot gold rose to a two-week high of $1,228.10 an ounce in early trading and was trading up 2 percent to $1,228. It had dropped to its weakest since June 28 at $1,184.50 an ounce on Tuesday. U.S. gold futures for February delivery settled 1.9 percent higher at $1,225.20 an ounce.
Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, remained unchanged at their lowest since January 2009 at 798.22 tonnes on Tuesday.
Traders are likely to monitor U.S. weekly jobless claims and the Institute for Supply Management's index of national factory activity later on Thursday for indications of the strength of the U.S. recovery.
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