Gold price tanks after Fed QE changes

The gold price plunged more than $40 on Wednesday after US Federal Reserve minutes showed changes to its quantitative easing program are contemplated for March.

In afternoon trade April gold futures exchanged hands for $1,563 an ounce, extending a steep decline that started shortly after the Fed's release.

The minutes showed that some members of the central bank want to reduce or end the purchases under the program before the stated goal of 6.5% unemployment is reached.

The Fed's balance sheet crossed the $3 trillion mark early into 2013 through the buying of Treasurys and mortgage bonds to the tune of $85 billion a month.

QE, which floods markets with cheap money, increases gold's allure as a hedge against inflation amid currency depreciation.

The first QE program was announced by chairman Ben Bernanke in December 2008 when an ounce of gold cost $837.50.