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Gold below $1,200/oz on dollar, shares; heads for weekly loss

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Gold steadied on Friday, struggling to rise above the $1,200 an ounce mark as the dollar firmed and investor appetite for risk increased on expectations of rising U.S. interest rates.

Spot gold was unchanged at $1,197.30 an ounce by 1040 GMT. The metal was heading for a 2 percent weekly fall after two weeks of gains.

U.S. gold for delivery in February gained 0.2 percent to $1,197.30 an ounce.

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The Fed, after wrapping up a two-day meeting on Wednesday, signaled it was on track to increase rates next year but said it was taking a patient stance, allowing gold to keep losses in check.

Higher interest rates would hurt non-interest-bearing bullion, which had been boosted by central bank liquidity and a low interest rate environment in the years following the 2008 financial crisis.

"Right now, the market is struggling to move away from $1,200... the fact that we made a move below $1,189 after the FOMC and no stops were triggered could indicate that there is not a great deal of selling at this stage but at the same time I don't think we have much upside above $1,225," Saxo Bank senior manager Ole Hansen said.

"The market is evenly positioned at the moment and that leaves it open to react to news as it comes heading into January."

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Fed's no-rush stance to withdraw stimulus from the U.S. economy sent European shares up, after Asian stocks enjoyed their best day in 15 months and Wall Street boasted its biggest two-day advance since late 2011.

The dollar rose 0.1 percent versus a basket of leading currencies, while the safe-haven yen fell on expectations of further stimulus next year to bolster Japanese inflation. Benchmark Brent crude oil futures rose almost 2 percent.

Gold is usually seen as a hedge against oil-led inflation.

In India, gold importers are offering a discount of $2 an ounce versus London prices for the first time in almost five months due to excess market supply.

Importers generally charge a premium over London prices but demand in the world's second-biggest gold consumer is expected to fall sharply this month after shipments surged in the past three months.

Among other precious metals, silver rose 0.5 percent to $15.93 an ounce. Platinum was unchanged at $1,197.60 an ounce and palladium lost 0.3 percent at $786.00 an ounce.

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