Gold prices, like global stocks and major currencies, hardly moved Thursday as investors waited to see if Europe would manage to stanch its debt crisis and avoid a recession, or worse.
Stocks in Europe were off slightly, Asian equities faded and the euro edged higher against the dollar and yen. Crude oil hovered above $100 per barrel. Volumes in most markets were low. European bonds appeared to be in a holding pattern.
Demand for physical gold by India, the world's largest buyer, and China was eerily quiet, UBS analyst Edel Tully said Thursday.
The European Central Bank was expected to cut a key lending rate by as much as 1 percent or as little as 0.25 percent. The effect on the single currency was not clear.
Friday's Eurozone summit appears unlikely to produce a cure for the two-year-old sovereign debt crisis, leaving analysts looking to next year for at least some kind of analgesic.
Despite reduced expectations for a real breakthrough in efforts (Friday) to remedy the sovereign debt crisis, it is reasonable to assume that the combination of the newly created European Stability Mechanism, which will be started in 2012, and the European Financial Stability Facility will give Eurozone authorities enough firepower to reassure the financial markets, HSBC analyst James Steel said late Wednesday in a note.
Gold for February delivery slipped $2.70 to $1,742.10, while gold for immediate delivery fell $3.48 $1,738.65.
Silver for March delivery was up three cents to $32.64, while silver for immediate delivery rose 10 cents to $32.63.