Gold prices barely moved Tuesday as investors waited to see if Eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels will agree to strengthen the continent's bailout fund so it can insure sovereign debt.
The ministers may seek to increase the size of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to about 1 trillion euros ($1.34 billion) from the current capacity of 440 billion euros ($588 billion).
BBC reported that ministers may try to boost the capacity of EFSF by offering insurance on up to 30 percent of the value of sovereign bonds as a way of boosting demand for government debt.
Increasing the size of the rescue fund is considered imperative given the shaky finances of Italy and Spain - two large economies that would presumably need much larger bailouts than such smaller nations as Ireland, Portugal and Greece.
European stocks closed higher on hope that Eurozone finance ministers will deliver the more-robust rescue fund needed to stop Europe's financial contagion. The FTSE 100 gained 24.24 to close at 5,337, France's CAC 40 stock index settled up 13.83 to 3,026.76 and Germany's DAX finished higher by 54.58 to 5,799.91.
Whether some consensus comes out of Europe is to be seen, Jeffrey Sherman, who helps manage $19 billion for DoubleLine Capital LP, told Bloomberg. What you're seeing is rallying on hope of a deal, but it seems to fall flat on its face every time they have tried to implement.
Besides higher European stocks, gold's price was supported by several factors, including short-covering and dollar weakness, which encourages bargain hunting from buyers who use non-U.S. currencies.
Positive U.S. news also supported gold, which has been trading like stocks and other risky assets. The Conference Board said U.S. consumer confidence rose this month from its mid-2009 low to 56.0. That's up from an upwardly revised 40.9 level of last month and higher than economists expected.
Consumers' assessment of current conditions finally improved, after six months of steady declines, Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement. Consumers appear to be entering the holiday season in better spirits, though overall readings remain historically weak.
Online retail sales on Cyber Monday hit record highs and jumped 33 percent compared to the same day last year, according to a report from IBM Coremetrics. The value of an average order also rose from $193.24 to $198.26 -- 2.6 percent - on Cyber Monday. IBM tracked trends until midnight PT, on Tuesday morning.
U.S. stocks were mixed in afternoon trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 35.50 to 11,558.51, the S&P 500 added 2.17 to 1,194.72 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 15.41 to 2,511.93.
Silver underperformed, declining about one percent. It failed to get the same relative boost that gold did from either the consumer confidence report or stronger stocks. It even underperformed platinum, which was down about a mere 0.2 percent.
Palladium gained about one percent.
Throughout the session gold prices stayed within a $14 range, $1,721.70 to $1,707.20, that defined the metal's resistance and support levels.
Gold for February delivery, the most actively traded gold contract on the Comex, closed up $4.40 to $1,718.90, while gold for immediate delivery rose $2.41 to $1,713.21.
Silver for March delivery, the most actively traded silver contract on the Comex, settled lower by 29 cents to $31.95, while silver for immediate delivery slipped a penny to $31.90.