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Gold rises 2 pct as Fed takes patient stance on rate hike

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Gold climbed more than 2 percent on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would take a patient approach toward raising interest rates, lifting stock markets and commodities while dampening the dollar.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the Fed was unlikely to hike rates for "at least a couple of meetings", meaning April of next year at the earliest.

Rising U.S. interest rates increase the opportunity cost of holding non-interest bearing assets such as gold, and also lift the dollar, in which the metal is priced. The dollar fell against a basket of currencies on Thursday.

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Spot gold was up 1.8 percent at $1,209.46 an ounce by 1043 GMT. On Wednesday, it fell as far as $1,183.73, its lowest since Dec. 1.

A break of stops above $1,200 an ounce sparked a rally in gold in early European trade, said Afshin Nabavi, head of trading at MKS, sending prices to a peak of $1,212.80 an ounce.

"The Fed left themselves lots of room going forward, depending on the (economic) figures," he said.

U.S. February gold was up 1.3 percent to $1,209.90 an ounce. Other precious metals also advanced, with spot silver up 3.2 percent to $16.19 an ounce.

European stocks rose 1.9 percent and euro zone bond yields fell after the Fed altered a pledge to keep rates near zero for a "considerable time", but struck a more cautious tone than many had expected as the United States mulls its next rate rise.

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"The Fed did a good job yesterday of slowly distancing themselves from the 'considerable' forward guidance, without upsetting local equity markets," Dutch bank ING said in a note.

On the currency market, the dollar index was down 0.2 percent after the Fed statement, while the Swiss franc hit its lowest against the dollar in more than two years after the Swiss National Bank said it would introduce negative interest rates.

Gains in gold are likely to be limited, however, as expectations remain that rates will rise next year. Economists at Wall Street's biggest banks are still convinced the Fed will lift rates by next June.

"With the prospect of rate rises next year and commodities on the whole somewhat out of favour, the upside is also limited," Marex Spectron said in a note.

Among other precious metals, spot platinum was up 2.2 percent at $1,212.60 an ounce, while spot palladium was up 1.8 percent at $789.63 an ounce.