Gold posts weekly loss on dollar rise, strong US data

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Gold edged lower on Friday and closed down for the week as rallying equity markets and strong U.S. economic data dented demand for the precious metal as an insurance against risk.

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes rose to a six-year high in September, but a sharp downward revision to August's sales pace indicated the housing recovery remains tentative.

Bullion notched a 0.5 percent weekly loss, after two consecutive weekly rises driven by renewed worries about global economic growth.

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"A better run of U.S. data has calmed nerves about the wider economy, and that has put pressure on gold in the past few days, as it had been enjoying a safe-haven bid," said Matthew Turner, an analyst at Macquarie.

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,231.14 an ounce.

U.S. gold futures outperformed spot, settling up $2.70 at $1,231.80 an ounce, with lower-than-usual volume, according to preliminary Reuters data.

Gold's weekly loss was also triggered by a resurgent dollar.

The dollar was down 0.2 percent against a basket of major currencies on Friday, but was set to post a near 1 percent gain for the week after two weeks of declines.

In gold's official-sector news, a proposal to prohibit the Swiss National Bank from selling any of its gold reserves has the support of 44 percent of the public, though that result falls short of the backing it needs to become law, a closely watched survey showed.

Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's top bullion exchange-traded fund, fell to their lowest level since late 2008 this week in a sign of lingering bearish sentiment in the bullion market.

The fund this week recorded its biggest daily percentage drop in holdings in a year, despite a price jump to a six-week high.

The U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday will be the next major focus for the market. The consensus view is for the U.S. central bank to decide to wrap up asset purchases under its third round of quantitative easing. Investors will be looking for any clues on the possible timing of an interest rate increase.