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Gold holds above 3-week low as ECB leaves rates unchanged

AP

Gold remained above a three-week low on Thursday, as the dollar and European shares fell after the European Central Bank left key interest rates unchanged, but better-than-expected U.S. jobs data weighed.

The ECB held rates at record lows as it seeks to revive growth and inflation with cheap credit to the economy. It added that it still expects its key interest rates to remain at present or lower levels for an extended period. ECB President Mario Draghi told a post-meeting news conference that the euro zone's central bank was prepared to take more action to lift inflation and economic growth if necessary.

"September's meeting has become even more important and expectations will be running sky-high that the bank will do more QE (quantitative easing)," ThinkMarkets chief analyst Naeem Aslam said.

Spot gold was up 1.27 percent at $1,332.30 an ounce, after touching $1,310.56, its lowest since June 28. U.S. gold was up 0.85 percent at $1,330.50 an ounce. Gold futures settled at $1331 per ounce on Thursday.

The dollar index, which hit a more than four-month high on Wednesday, slipped 0.22 percent against a basket of six currencies, also on reports that Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda had ruled out using "helicopter money" to stimulate Japan's economy.

The U.S. currency had benefitted lately from stronger-than-forecast economic data, which raised expectations that the Federal Reserve may raise rates before the end of the year.

On Thursday, data showed claims for state unemployment benefits slipped to their lowest reading since April.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising rates, which increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.

"The chief factor impacting gold is the Fed's decision about an interest rate hike," Aslam said.

"Recent data and ... earnings season have stimulated speculation that another rate hike is back on the table and the odds of such will go even higher if the non-farm payrolls next month print another robust number."

Spot gold has found support at $1,313 per ounce, and may hover around this level temporarily before falling towards the next support at $1,298, Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao said.