The GOLD PRICE slipped back to last night's near-two week lows at $1665 per ounce Friday lunchtime in London, heading for a 1.1% drop on the week as world stock markets and other "risk assets" rose.
Silver also ticked lower to trade 2.7% beneath Wednesday's 5-week highs.
Germany's Ifo index of business sentiment meantime hit its best level since June.
The European Central Bank surprised analysts by saying 278 banks in the single-currency zone will repay €137 billion ($184bn) of their 3-year LTRO loans next week, nearly two-thirds more than expected.
"It now seems that the stronger tone in global equity markets, coupled with a notable easing in European and US market tensions, is leading to short-term pressure on gold," reckons INTL FCStone analyst Ed Meir.
"We think it will continue for a little while longer, given that negative chart picture[s] are also contributing to the sloppier tone."
Also looking at gold price charts, this week's "failure to make a new high...is bearish," says bullion bank Scotia Mocatta, pointing to $1625 as the "next level of support."
Barclays' technical analysts think a "pullback" to $1640 is now likely, following Thursday's finish in US gold futures beneath $1675.
Despite stronger-than-forecast US economic data, however, "Accommodative [monetary] policy is still expected to remain in place for some time," counters London market-maker UBS, "a scenario that continues to be conducive for higher gold prices.
"[Gold's] recent pullback should be viewed as an opportunity to pick up metal at more attractive levels."
On the currency markets Friday, the British Pound fell to a 5-month low against the Dollar and a 13-month low against the Euro after new data showed the UK economy shrinking 0.3% at the end of 2012.
That capped the drop in Sterling Gold Prices to £5 for the week at £1056 per ounce.
The quantity of Gold Bullion held to back shares in the world's biggest gold ETF trust fund – State Street's GLD – shrank again on Thursday, down another 3 tonnes to 1331.7 and now 1.7% smaller from mid-December's record holding.
Silver backing the iShares Silver ETF – the SLV – extending this week's contraction to 237 tonnes or some 2.2% of the total.
That is "still well under half" of last week's addition however, notes Bloomberg News.
"We used to watch Comex [futures contracts] open interest," Bloomberg quotes Bernard Sin at Swiss refining group MKS in Geneva, "but now everybody looks at ETF holdings to give a clear signal of investor interest."
Over in Asia, meantime, China is "now clearly the largest global consumer of gold" – overtaking India at last – says the latest Commodities Weekly from Natixis.
Analysts at the French investment bank and bullion dealer point to the latest available import and mining-output data available from the world's top two gold buying nations.
"India's low figure is the combination of a weak rupee, slower economic growth and higher import tariffs."
On the supply side, Gold Mining bosses are "more optimistic" about gold prices in 2013 than they were in 2012, says the new Global Gold Price Report from consultancy PwC.
"Eighty-three per cent of executives believe we will see a rise in the price of gold, with zero expecting to see a decline," says PwC.
"Executives of some of the largest gold companies expect to see the price of gold climb beyond $2000 in 2013."
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