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Gold hit its highest in a month on Thursday after the European Central Bank pledged to keep interest rates steady through next summer and investors fretted over weak Chinese data. The precious metal`s upside, however, was capped by a firmer dollar and a slightly more hawkish Federal Reserve. Spot gold was up 0.3 percent at $1,303.59 per ounce after hitting a high of $1,309.30 an ounce, its best since May 15. U.S. gold futures for August delivery rose 0.5 percent to $1,307.20 per ounce. The ECB said on Thursday it would end its unprecedented bond purchase scheme by the close of the year, but signalled that this would not mean rapid policy tightening in the coming months. "The ECB ... has now delivered an intrinsically hawkish announcement (ie, the end of QE) in a dovish tone," Luigi Speranza, head of European market economics at BNP Paribas, said in a note. Higher interest rates are generally regarded as negative for gold, a non-interest bearing asset. The ECB move sent the euro down while the dollar index extended its gains as U.S. retail sales posted their strongest rise in six months, supporting the view the Federal Reserve would raise short-term interest rates further. On Wednesday, the Fed lifted key overnight borrowing costs increases by the end of this year, compared to one previously.

12.23 AM Jun 15th
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