PRECIOUS-Gold down 1.2 pct as Fed minutes show doubts on QE
* Fed concerns trigger sell-off * Some Fed policymakers suggest early end to stimulus By Frank Tang NEW YORK, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Gold prices fell more than 1 percent Thursday on signs that Federal Reserve officials are increasingly concerned about the risks of the Fed's asset purchases on financial markets, reducing bullion's appeal as a hedge against inflation. Minutes from the Fed's December policy meeting showed a growing reticence about further increases in the central bank's balance sheet, which was expanded sharply in response to the financial crisis and recession of 2007-2009. The minutes also showed several officials thought it would be appropriate to slow or stop asset purchases well before the end of 2013, citing concerns about financial stability and the size of the balance sheet. "With the news that some policymakers suggested that the Fed could withdraw QE before the end of year, that put a dent on one of the underpinnings on gold, which is expansionary monetary policy," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist of Janney Montgomery Scott, a broker-dealer which manages $54 billion in assets. Economic fears due to unprecedented Fed monetary stimulus, including printing money to buy assets - known as quantitative easing - has been a key driver in boosting gold, a traditional inflation hedge. Spot gold was down 1.2 percent at $1,665.60 by 2:45 p.m. EST (1945 GMT). U.S. COMEX gold futures for February delivery were down $14.20 an ounce at $1,674.60, with volume in line with its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed. On Dec. 31 gold closed up 7 percent from a year earlier, its 12th consecutive yearly gain. Among other precious metals, silver was down 1.8 percent to $30.40 an ounce on Thursday, platinum edged up 0.2 percent to $1,564.24, and palladium dropped 1.9 percent to $689.25 an ounce. 2:45 PM EST LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold FEB 1674.60 -14.20 -0.8 1661.90 1690.50 122,491 US Silver MAR 30.72 -0.287 -0.9 30.360 31.225 32,029 US Plat JAN 1576.70 11.60 0.7 1563.90 1576.70 132 US Pall MAR 697.15 -10.80 -1.5 691.00 708.00 3,013 Gold 1665.60 -20.75 -1.2 1662.28 1689.60 Silver 30.400 -0.570 -1.8 30.350 31.180 Platinum 1564.24 3.74 0.2 1564.00 1575.74 Palladium 689.25 -13.12 -1.9 693.77 709.00 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 151,388 159,451 174,269 13.06 -0.43 US Silver 38,876 50,553 52,943 22.57 -1.48 US Platinum 9,109 13,674 10,454 17.82 -3.08 US Palladium 3,085 5,348 4,789
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