Gold settled lower on Wednesday as minutes from the Federal Reserve's January meeting showed officials were nearing a decision on how to adjust a promise to keep interest rates low for a while to come.
At the meeting, the Fed ultimately decided to make a second modest cut to its bond-buying program, which now runs at $65 billion per month. It made the move despite turmoil at the time in emerging markets brought on in part by the withdrawal of Fed stimulus.
Earlier, a Labor Department report showed little sign of price increases at the factory gate weighed on bullion's inflation-hedge appeal. Separate economic data that showed U.S. housing starts posted their biggest drop in almost three years also failed to lift gold.
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U.S gold futures for April delivery settled $4.00 lower at $1,320.40 an ounce.
Spot gold dropped 0.4 percent to $1,317 an ounce. Bullion has risen around 9 percent so far this year and touched $1,332.10 an ounce on Tuesday, its strongest since Oct. 31, before shedding gains.
Net gold demand fell 15 percent in 2013 as huge outflows from physically backed investment funds outweighed record consumer demand but that disinvestment is tailing off this year, the World Gold Council said on Tuesday.
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