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Gold weighed down by prospects of ECB, Fed tightening

Key Points
  • ECB official calls for cutting bond purchases.
  • Platinum sinks to one-month low.
  • Strong U.S. CPI data supports dollar.
Gold bullion bars and coins.
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Gold prices fell on Friday after a European Central Bank (ECB) official called for scaling back the bank's stimulus program, although losses were capped when weaker-than-expected U.S. economic data raised questions about further interest rate hikes. ECB board member Sabine Lautenschlaeger made the most explicit call so far from an ECB policymaker for paring the bank's 2.3 trillion euros money-printing program.

"For gold this is bad news because this continues the trend of the market pricing in the normalization of monetary policy," said Jens Pedersen, senior analyst at Danske Bank in Copenhagen.

But he said there had already been plenty of headlines about the ECB planning an exit from its bond buying and the U.S. Federal Reserve reducing its balance sheet after its big quantitative easing program.

Spot gold was down 0.6 percent at $1,321.88 an ounce, on track for its biggest weekly decline since early July.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled down 0.3 percent at $1,325.20 an ounce.

With North Korea nuclear threat and hurricanes, gold will rise

Those "normalization" actions by central banks tend to pressure gold. Gold briefly pared losses on news that U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell in August and industrial output dropped for the first time since January, in contrast to Thursday's strong U.S. inflation data.

Gold largely shrugged off North Korea's firing of another missile over Hokkaido, Japan.

"Markets are paying much more attention to global economic data," said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Seattle. "The synchronized global growth story is gaining momentum and the uptick in inflation seems to mean that the Fed has plans to make their planned moves."

The Fed's two-day monetary policy meeting begins on Sept. 19. Commerzbank said August gold imports into India, the world's second biggest gold consumer, were the lowest so far this year. In other precious metals, platinum's discount to gold fell to around $360, the lowest according to Reuters data dating back to 1985.

Platinum dropped 1 percent to $969 an ounce after touching $959.95, the lowest since Aug. 16. This is also around where the 50-day moving average crossed above the 200-day moving average. The metal was down 3.7 percent for the week, on track for its biggest weekly drop since March.

Silver fell 0.8 percent to $17.61 and was set to mark its first weekly decline in four.

Palladium rose 0.2 percent to $924.10 and was heading for a second weekly decline.