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Gold falls from 2-week high, eyes US policy

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AP

Gold fell on Monday as investors cashed in gains after upbeat Asian demand earlier lifted the metal to two-week highs, with expectations for a rise in U.S. interest rates later this year keeping a lid on prices.

Spot gold was at $1,208 an ounce, down 0.4 percent from late on Friday. U.S. gold futures for April delivery were down $5 an ounce at $1,209. Earlier spot prices rose to $1,223.20 an ounce, their highest since Feb. 17, after an interest rate cut in Beijing lifted demand in China, the world's second largest gold market.

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"The higher levels we saw were a good opportunity for some of the bears in the market, who are focusing on the fact that the Fed looks to be on course to raise rates, to take some profits," Societe Generale anlayst Robin Bhar said.

"We have non-farm payrolls data this week, which always sends markets into a bit of a frenzy. Going by recent evidence, the number is likely to be strong again. That should strengthen the dollar and maybe take some of the attractiveness of gold away."

The dollar was flat against a basket of currencies, but held near an earlier 11-year high, helped by the Chinese rate cut.

A strong U.S. non-farm payrolls report on Friday could bolster expectations that the Federal Reserve will press ahead with an interest rate increase sooner rather than later.

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Gold fell 5.5 percent in February, its biggest monthly loss since September, on expectations for a hike later this year, though prices recovered some ground last week after Fed chair Janet Yellen hinted that the Fed was in no rush to hike rates.

Gold prices were supported by strength in the Asian physical markets overnight. Premiums for physical gold at the Shanghai Gold Exchange stayed firm at around $4-$5 an ounce over the global spot benchmark on Monday.

Top buyer India will introduce gold deposit accounts to utilize the 20,000 tonnes available within the country and launch a sovereign gold bond, but it kept the import duty at a record 10 percent in a setback for jewelers.