Gold Falls Sharply Back to 1226

Gold plunged Thursday, settling nearly 3 percent lower after mixed U.S. economic data lifted the dollar and stoked expectations that the Federal Reserve could reduce its huge stimulus program as early as next week.

U.S. retail sales rose 0.7 percent in November, while initial jobless claims rose 68,000 to 368,000 last week, the largest weekly increase since November 2012.

The steady stream of fairly positive data, coupled with news of a bipartisan budget agreement reached late on Tuesday, was seen as a sign the U.S. central bank could start trimming its $85 billion monthly bond purchases at its Dec. 17-18 meeting, or at the latest in January or March next year.


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