Gold drops below $1,400, on track for second monthly gain

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Gold slid below $1,400 an ounce on Friday as the dollar rallied to a four-week high and investors squared positions at the end of the month and cashed in on a recent run-up ahead of a long U.S. holiday weekend.

Gold, which remained on track for a 5.6 percent monthly gain, briefly trimmed its decline in the afternoon as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was making a broad case for U.S. military action against Syria. But prices fell back to pre-speech level before he finished his televised address.

Kerry made a case for limited U.S. military action against Syria for its suspected use of chemical weapons, saying it could not go unpunished for such a "crime against humanity." But he said any U.S. action would be carefully tailored and would not in any way resemble the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Spot gold was down 0.83 percent at $1,395.91 an ounce, after slipping to a session low of $1,392.06 an ounce. During Kerry's address, gold had retraced some losses and was about 0.40 percent lower.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery traded $16.90 an ounce lower at $1,396 an ounce, down 1.20 percent.

The precious metal slid below $1,400 an ounce early, as the dollar rallied to a four-week high against the euro following soft euro zone economic readings.

"Gold is under pressure from a firm U.S. dollar and lower oil prices after the West debates whether to attack Syria," Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said.

While tensions over Syria kept investors on edge, James Steel, chief precious metals analyst at HSBC in New York said month-end book squaring and the upcoming long U.S. weekend was likely adding volatility to the market.

"Geopolitical rallies tend not to buoy the market unless there's further deterioration. In this case, it would be military action," Steel said.

As of Wednesday, the latest rally had lifted gold to a 3-1/2 month high of $1,433.31. Bullion was headed for its second straight monthly gain, a rally that analysts said was driven largely by investors covering short positions.

—By Reuters.