* Thursday ECB meeting expected to set stimulus measures
* Dollar index weakens against euro
* SPDR gold fund sees strong inflows (Updates prices, adds comment)
By Marcy Nicholson and Clara Denina
NEW YORK/LONDON, Jan 21 (Reuters) – Gold pared gains on Wednesday, after climbing above $ 1,300 an ounce for the first time since August, as profit-taking entered the market following reports of a proposed bond-buying program for the European Central Bank (ECB).
The ECB’s executive board has proposed a program that would enable the bank to buy 50 billion euros ($ 58 billion) in bonds per month starting in March, a euro zone source said.
Financial markets have been nervous about the ECB policy meeting on Thursday, when the bank is widely expected to unveil a quantitative easing (QE) program.
Spot gold hit its highest level since Aug. 15 at $ 1,305 an ounce in early trade and was up 0.1 percent at $ 1,294.61 at 2:41 p.m. EST (1941 GMT).
U.S. gold futures for delivery in February settled down 0.04 percent at $ 1,293.70 an ounce.
“Tomorrow is the second biggest soiree of the season, outside of a Fed hike meeting, and the gold market has decided to take some profit after a good long look up Draghi’s dress and apparently unimpressed by the trillion euro knickers,” said Tai Wong, director of base and precious metals trading for BMO Capital Markets in New York.
Mario Draghi is the ECB president.
The dollar slipped to a nearly one-week low against the euro following the reports on the ECB. A softer greenback makes dollar-denominated gold cheaper for holders of other currencies.
Gold rose above $ 1,300 an ounce earlier on increased investor interest due to a softer dollar, as well as worries about the global economy and prospects of ECB stimulus measures.
Traders said holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, had jumped 1.55 percent to the highest since Oct. 29 at 742.24 tonnes.
“We have seen this month the largest SPDR inflows since August 2012 when the Fed was revving up to do QE3, so ECB QE is having a similar impact,” Macquarie analyst Matthew Turner said.
Worries over the health of the global economy have added to gold’s appeal. On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for global growth in 2015.
Among other precious metals, spot silver jumped 1.6 percent to its highest since Sept. 19 at $ 18.48 an ounce and later pared gains and was up 1.5 percent at $ 18.20. Palladium turned down 0.8 percent to $ 765.50 an ounce, while platinum was down 0.4 percent at $ 1,269.50 an ounce. (Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by David Holmes, David Evans and Tom Brown)