Gold fell yesterday, coming under pressure from the weakness in the euro on the back of the discord among European leaders on how to contain the debt crisis, despite global holdings of metal in exchange-traded funds hitting a fresh record high.
Yields on Italian two-year bonds rose to fresh euro area highs, in spite of the European Central Bank's efforts to contain the rise by buying Italian debt, while the euro fell to its weakest in nearly two months against the dollar and the yen.
Talks between Germany, France and Italy on Thursday were overshadowed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's determined opposition to a joint Eurozone bond and a bigger role for the European Central Bank to deal with the crisis.
Demand from key consumers such as India was suppressed by the strength of the dollar, which pushed the price of gold in rupees close to all-time highs, thereby reducing a major support source for the price.
Further evidence of central bank demand for gold, together with a rise in investment in bullion-backed exchange-traded funds to a record high this week highlighted the ongoing desire for bullion against a backdrop of uncertainty. Spot gold was last at $1,676.39 (Dh6157) an ounce at 1108 GMT, down 1.06 per cent on the day and set for a weekly decline of 2.5 per cent.
US gold futures for Dec-ember delivery were down 1.1 per cent on the day at $1,677.3 an ounce.
"It's a function of the dollar strength but also with gold so high, especially in Indian rupees, demand in the physical markets has dropped substantially and is not nearly as strong as it was six weeks ago," Walter de Wet, an analyst at Standard Bank, said.
"That component of support is not there at the moment. I don't think there is resistance because we're not seeing a lot of scrap coming on to the market. But simply, the buying isn't there... I wouldn't be surprised to see gold a bit lower in the next couple of days," he said, adding that a move to $1,650 or below was not out of the question.
Global gold holdings at all-time high
Global holdings of gold in exchange traded funds (ETFs) have risen by more than 300,000 ounces this week to hit an all-time high of 69.978 million ounces, after hefty inflows into large US funds such as the SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest, and COMEX Gold Trust.
UBS said purchases of gold by central banks, which last year became net buyers for the first time in two decades, increased again in October. China and India are prime candidates for adding to their gold holdings, given the size of their foreign exchange reserves.