The GOLD PRICE traded in a narrow range around $1691 per ounce Thursday morning in London, rising slightly from yesterday's 1-month low.
Asian and European stock markets also ticked higher, as did US Treasury bonds.
Silver rallied to $32.78 per ounce after losing nearly 3% this week so far, but commodities more broadly slipped again.
"Risks to our [economic] growth outlook remain elevated," said a widely-reported gold price forecast from investment-bank Goldman Sachs on Wednesday, "especially given the uncertainty around the fiscal cliff.
"[That] makes calling the peak in gold prices a difficult exercise. [But] the gold cycle is likely to turn in 2013," says Goldman analyst Damien Courvalin, lowering his 12-month forecast to $1800 per ounce.
Looking at the commodities sector more broadly, "Supply-side fundamentals, demand elasticity and idiosyncratic risks will prove increasingly important in driving price action," counters Hussein Allidina in his 2013 Commodities Outlook for Morgan Stanley.
"Under this lens, we favor exposure to gold/silver," he says, forecasting an average gold price in 2013 of $1853 per ounce.
The US Federal Reserve "is set" to launch a fourth round of quantitative easing Treasury-bond buying, says a story on Reuters today, claiming that the Fed "[will] replace Operation Twist with $45 bln in new bond buys."
Greece meantime was declared to be in "selective default" today by the Standard & Poor’s ratings agency, because Athens' buy-back of debt from private holders – scheduled for two weeks' time – will give those investors "less value than the promise of the original securities."
Spending €10 billion, Greece will give the bondholders a maximum of €0.40 per Euro, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Ahead of the latest European Central Bank policy statement and press conference, the Euro stemmed Wednesday's 1-cent drop at $1.3050, while the Gold Price for Eurozone investors bounced €5 from its 6-month low of €1290 per ounce.
The British Pound meantime held near a 1-month high of $1.61 after the Bank of England kept its interest rate at a record low of 0.5% for the 44th month running, and reconfirmed its quantitative easing target of £375 billion in government debt purchases.
"Positive US data [on Wednesday] pointed to some improvement in economic growth," says Commerzbank, "which did not bode too well for the gold price.
"Silver followed gold’s trail lower."
"Now that the key support level of $1700 an ounce has been breached," says David Levenstein in his daily note for South Africa's Rand Refinery, "there is a possibility that technical traders may attempt to push prices lower in the short-term."
"We're actually seeing a fairly mysterious seller in the Asian time zone over the last week," says Jeffrey Rhodes, CEO of INTL Commodities in Dubai, quoted by Emirates 24/7.
"We've seen some fairly large sell orders hit the market in the thinly-traded twilight zone" between London and Asian business, Rhodes says.
"Maybe that [push to lower prices] is a prelude to buying gold...Either way, many players are closing their books for the year – they've either made what they’ve made for the year, or they’ve lost and don't want to lose anymore."
"Over the past 4 years December has traditionally been a poor performing month for gold," writes Moudi Raad at Swiss refinery group MKS, "averaging a decline of around 8% over that period."
Since 2008 the New Year has then seen what Raad calls "a solid turnaround, and with central bank buying still on the cards and ETF holdings increasing for a 13th straight session yesterday there is demand out there."
"There is some heavy selling by fund investors and leveraged money," agrees Miguel Perez-Santalla, vice president for the Americas here at BullionVault, speaking to Reuters.
"But physical gold demand should benefit in the long run from the fiscal cliff after these short-term fluctuations."
Gold-backed ETF holdings rose once again worldwide on Wednesday.
Two days after the US Mint reported its strongest monthly sales of gold bullion coins since July 2010, Australia's Perth Mint said overnight that its gold sales sipped in November, but sales of silver rose by 37% from October.