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Gold eases on nervousness over Fed policy outlook

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Gold prices eased on Friday, reflecting tension between an easier global interest rate backdrop and the chance of U.S. monetary policy being tightened before the end of the year.

Spot gold shed 0.52 percent to stand at $1,323.72 an ounce, on course for a weekly decline of about 1 percent. U.S. gold was down 0.59 percent at $1,323.40 an ounce. Gold futures settled on Friday at $1323.40 an ounce.

Bullion has benefited significantly — hitting its highest in two years this month — as central banks from Europe to Japan opt to keep policy looser for longer, which neutralises the opportunity cost of holding an asset that does not pay interest.

Goldman's top commodities man on gold prices

But the dollar has gained ground recently on strong readings on the U.S. labour market and inflation, boosting bets that the Fed will raise U.S. rates by year-end.

"People think the international situation is enough to keep the Federal Reserve on hold, but there's some slight nervousness," Macquarie analyst Matthew Turner said.

"The assumption that the Fed is more cautious now is surely correct as it didn't manage to do the hiking cycle it wanted, but being more cautious does not mean completely paralysed.

There's a slight down cycle for gold at the moment as there has been a string of good U.S. data."

How to trade gold now

The U.S. Federal Reserve will wait until the fourth quarter before raising interest rates, probably in December after the presidential election, according to a Reuters poll that again showed subdued inflation expectations.

The European Central Bank, meanwhile, held rates at record lows on Thursday as it seeks to revive growth and inflation with cheap credit to the economy. It left the door open to more policy stimulus, highlighting great uncertainty and abundant risks to the economic outlook.

Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao said that spot gold could retest support at $1,313 an ounce.

Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.22 percent to 963.14 tonnes on Thursday.

In other metals, spot palladium fell 0.07 percent to $682, having touched its highest since late October 2015 the previous day.

Spot silver, which fell to its lowest in nearly two weeks on Thursday, was down 0.64 percent at $19.63 an ounce while spot platinum lost 1.81 percent to $1,077.60.