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Gold surges most since 2009

NEW YORK — Gold jumped the most since 2009 on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve unexpectedly refrained from reducing the pace of monthly bond purchases, increasing demand for the metal as a store of value.

Earlier, spot gold had touched the lowest in almost six weeks, dropping beneath $1,300 an ounce, on speculation the central bank would start to rein in quantitative easing.

‘‘This is a game-changer, and some of the money that ran away because of tapering fears will be back,’’ said Michael Gayed, at New York-based Pension Partners. ‘‘We are seeing the bullish sentiment return.’’

Gold for immediate delivery rose 4.1 percent to $1,364.67 at 4:11 p.m. New York time, heading for the biggest gain since Jan. 23, 2009. Earlier, the price fell as much as 1.4 percent to $1,292.02, the lowest since Aug. 8.

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On the Comex, futures for December delivery jumped 4.2 percent to $1,364.10, the biggest gain since March 2009 in electronic trading in New York. Earlier, prices settled 0.1 percent lower at $1,307.60.

Through Tuesday, spot gold dropped 22 percent this year amid low US inflation and a stock market rally. The metal rose 70 percent from the end of December 2008 to June 2011 as the Fed pumped more than $2 trillion into the financial system by purchasing debt.

Gold futures in New York came within three percentage points of entering a bull market on Aug. 27 as the threat of US military action against Syria boosted demand for haven assets.

Prices that fell into a bear market in April are heading for the first annual decline in 13 years after some investors lost faith in the metal as a store of value. Holdings in exchange-traded funds backed by bullion are down 26 percent in 2013.