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Gold slips back on technical resistance

Gold started off well this week, but fell back Thursday when those with long positions sold — after technical analysis revealed that the precious metal failed to break through its 50-day moving average, according to Kitco. Other factors in gold's lackluster performance included news of a decline in US jobless claims, higher gold import duties from India, and a decision by the US Congress to keep borrowing money to pay America's bills until the middle of May. The latter siphoned off some safe-haven demand for gold.

Gold for February delivery lost $16.80 to finish at $1,669 per ounce, while spot gold was down $17.40 to close the day at $1,667.40.

Earlier in the week, gold edged higher after the Bank of Japan announced that it would implement more stimulus measures to boost its flagging economy. The open-ended asset purchases, to begin in 2014, will raise Japan's inflation rate to 2 percent. The news sent gold futures up to $1,693. 20 and spot gold to $1,691.24.

India raises gold import duty

India is hiking its import tax on gold in an effort to rein in its ballooning current account deficit. The world's largest gold consumer said Monday that it will raise the import tax on gold to 6 percent from 4 percent, which would curb purchases and reduce the current account deficit, which reached an all-time high of 5.4 percent of GDP in the July to September quarter, Reuters reported.

One gold trade observer noted the action may not have the desired result. “The hike in duty will only lead to large scale smuggling and loss of revenue for the government. An increase of Rs 60 per gram will not drive away imports,” said Mohit Kamboj, president of the Bombay Bullion Association (BBA), as reported by Gold Investing News.

Mineweb concurred that previous efforts have been unsuccessful, commenting "[t]he Indian government's decision to hike gold import duty twice last year has not had much of an impact, with gold imports at $10.46 billion in the second quarter, a fall of just $1 billion from the earlier quarter.”

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