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Gold reaches a 9-month high as US figures are highlighted

Gold prices rose to a nine-month high on Monday as investors turn their focus to a slew of U.S. economic data releases this week, with the focus on inflation and retail sales.

Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,274.81 an ounce by 0356 GMT, after earlier touching its highest since Aug. 29 at $1,276.81. U.S. gold futures were 0.4 percent higher at $1,274.90 an ounce.

The gold market is now awaiting a slew of U.S. economic data releases this week, with the focus on inflation and retail sales. Investors will look to these data releases for clues on the direction of interest rates and the dollar, which could affect the gold price.

The U.S. Labor Department is due to release its consumer price index (CPI) and retail sales reports on Tuesday. The CPI report is expected to show that inflation rose in January, while retail sales are forecast to have increased slightly.

Analysts said that if the data comes in better than expected, it could push gold prices lower as it could signal that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates sooner rather than later. Higher interest rates typically push the dollar higher, which makes gold more expensive for holders of other currencies.

On the other hand, if the data comes in weaker than expected, it could boost gold prices as it could signal that the Fed will take a more cautious approach to raising rates.

Overall, the data releases this week are likely to be a key driver of gold prices in the near term.