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Gold steadies after 8-day losing streak as dollar retreats

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Gold ended higher on Thursday as a retreat in the dollar from 12-year highs arrested an eight-session slide, but expectations that U.S. interest rates will rise sooner rather than later kept prices under pressure.

U.S. gold futures for April delivery settled up $1.30 at $1,151.90 an ounce. Spot gold was at $1,153 an ounce, down 0.1 percent on the day.

Earlier spot prices reached a high of $1,166.30 an ounce, but retreated as U.S. stocks climbed at the open. Gold fell to its lowest since Dec. 1 on Wednesday at $1,147.10 an ounce in an eighth session of losses, its longest drop since March 2009.

That was largely driven by a rally in the dollar to 12-year highs against the euro, as the European Central Bank launched a 1 trillion euro ($1.06 trillion) bond-buying campaign, and after robust employment data from the United States last week.

This chart delighting gold bugs

That data supported the view the Fed remains on track to raise U.S. interest rates this year, a move likely to boost the dollar while increasing the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

``It's a foregone conclusion that rates are going to rise, it's just a question of when, and by how much,'' Simon Weeks, head of precious metals at the Bank of Nova Scotia, said. ``As such, gold is going to struggle.''

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Euro-denominated gold underperformed to fall 0.9 percent after reaching a one-month high at 1,103.91 euros an ounce. A sell-off in the euro paused, with the single currency rising against the dollar for the first time in two weeks.

The euro is down 12 percent against the dollar this year as monetary policy at the ECB and Federal Reserve diverges, with the ECB launching quantitative easing as the Fed prepares for its first rate rise in almost a decade.

``Future policy action by the Fed remains high on gold's agenda,'' BNP Paribas said in a note on Thursday. ``It will continue to dictate the pace at which the U.S. dollar appreciates (and official sector demand for gold declines) and accordingly how much downward pressure will be exerted on gold.''