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Updated from 12:08 p.m. ET with settlement prices

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Gold prices slumped Thursday, continuing a drop in the value of the yellow metal on news the Federal Reserve could slow its economic stimulus program "at one of its next few meetings." In other words, sometime in the first quarter of 2014.

Gold for December delivery at the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell $14.40 to settle at $1,243.60 an ounce. The gold price traded as high as $1,250 and as low as $1,235.80 an ounce, while the spot price was dipping 0.25% to $1,244.43.

Inflationary concerns remain in check and the prospect of so-called tapering in the next few months are weighing on gold prices, David Meger, director of metals trading at Vision, said in a phone interview.

The central bank released its policy-making minutes from the October meeting on Wednesday. The minutes indicated the Fed will scale back asset purchases in the coming months if economic data continues to trend positively.

"Many members stressed the data-dependent nature of the current asset-purchase program," read the minutes of the recent meeting of the bank's Federal Open Markets committee. "Some pointed out that, if economic conditions warranted, the Committee could decide to slow the pace of purchases at one of its next few meetings."

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Many analysts have cited central bank quantitative easing as one of the catalysts for gold's huge rally since the 2008 financial crisis. Monetary stimulus is seen by some investors as inflationary, which makes gold, theoretically, an appealing hedge against a declining U.S. dollar.

Silver prices for December delivery closed off 12 cents to $19.93 an ounce, while the U.S. dollar index was adding 0.06% to $81.10.

Gold mining stocks were mostly lower on Thursday. Shares of Gold Fields (GFI) - Get Gold Fields Ltd. Report were losing 6.4% to $4.10.

Among volume leaders, Barrick Gold (ABX) was sliding 1.8% to $16.88 a share.

Gold ETF SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) - Get SPDR Gold Shares Report was little changed at $120.12, while iShares Gold Trust (IAU) - Get iShares Gold Trust Report was up 0.08% to $12.08.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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