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Gold rises from four-week low; Fed in focus

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Gold rose from four-week lows on Thursday as European stocks snapped a three-day run of gains, but traders remained cautious as they awaited fresh clues on the timing of a U.S. rate hike.

The precious metal fell 1.4 percent on Wednesday, its biggest one-day drop in nearly two months, as strength in stocks and the dollar pushed prices through key chart levels to $1,101.11 an ounce, the lowest since Aug. 11.

Prices could fall further ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on Sept. 16-17, traders said.

Spot gold was up 0.5 percent at $1,110.73 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled up 0.7 percent, or $7.30 higher, at $1,109.30 an ounce.


"It's very hard to work out what the gold market is pricing in regarding the probability of a hike and what the outcome will be if the FOMC surprises," ICBC Standard Bank strategist Tom Kendall said.

"The one thing that we can say is that the market at this time of year should be enjoying a bit of a seasonal boost, particularly from the Indian subcontinent, and at the moment, that market is very quiet."

Global equity markets outside the United States fell as concerns about the economies of China and Japan cast a cloud over the world growth picture, though Wall Street rose, due in part to a rebound in oil prices. The U.S. dollar softened.

Concerns over slowing growth in China and mixed economic data have increased uncertainty about the timing of a U.S. rate increase, which had been expected as early as this month.

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Prices could head back towards July lows after bullion broke through some key chart levels on Wednesday, technical analysts at ScotiaMocatta said. The July low of $1,077 was the weakest since February 2010.

"My concern is that $1,110 is now becoming a little bit of resistance. If that's the case, $1,080-$1,070 are the downside targets," said Eli Tesfaye, senior market strategist for brokerage RJO Futures in Chicago.

"I just don't see a lot of bullish factors in this market right now."

Investor interest in gold has been tepid. SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.61 percent to 678.18 tonnes on Wednesday, the biggest drop in nearly six weeks.