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Gold eases after three-day rise following ECB comments

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Gold eased slightly on Thursday after three days of gains as the U.S. dollar rose and the European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged, maintaining the parameters of its 1.74 trillion euro ($1.95 trillion) asset buying scheme.

Gold products are displayed for sale at a shop in Hanoi December 3, 2015. REUTERS/Kham

The ECB has provided extraordinary stimulus in recent years, cutting interest rates into negative territory and pushing the cost of credit to all-time lows.

Spot gold XAU= was down 0.2 percent at $1,266.4 an ounce by 2:46 p.m. EDT (1846 GMT), after tapping a two-week high at $1,273.82. U.S. December gold futures GCv1 settled down 0.2 percent at $1,267.50.

Gold saw good buying at the time of the ECB release, Mitsubishi analyst Jonathan Butler said. “(The) ECB will continue to have a very accommodative policy at least until December,” he said.

Ultra-low rates tend to support gold, though that is often offset by the impact of a weaker euro EUR=. The single currency fell to a four-month low against the dollar on Thursday. The dollar index .DXY rose to a seven-month high against a basket of currencies, extending gains after a stronger-than-expected U.S. existing home sales report.

“Sales rose to 5.47 (million) during the month, that’s 3.2 percent higher than a month ago and in contrast to the most recent reading on pending home sales,” said Royce Mendes, director and senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

“The divergence suggests that the momentum higher could be short lived.”

Traders are closely watching U.S. data for clues about when the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates, heavily tipped by a number of Fed policymakers for December

The market also eyed Wednesday night’s final U.S. presidential debate, which was judged not to have improved Donald Trump’s election hopes and which could potentially weigh on gold.

A win for Democrat Hillary Clinton is now clearly predicted by polls and is seen as easing the way for an interest rate hike.

Meanwhile, India’s overseas purchases of gold likely hit a nine-month high in October, industry officials told Reuters, while Swiss gold exports to China hit their highest since January last month, Swiss customs data showed.

“What is more, Swiss gold exports to India climbed to their highest level since January, which points to demand recovering there,” Commerzbank said in a note.

Spot palladium XPD= pared losses and was down 0.9 percent at $630 an ounce, after falling to a three-month low at $624.05.

Silver XAG= was down 0.85 percent at $17.49, while platinum XPT= was down 1.06 percent at $933.

Additional reporting by Apeksha Nair and Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; editing by William Hardy and Chizu Nomiyama