Gold prices, which already this week have broken above a key resistance level, barreled on Thursday toward a one-month high.

Since the end of last month gold prices have climbed more than seven percent on a combination of physical demand from Asian buyers and safe-haven investing by Europeans as well as short-covering.

In early trading Thursday the dollar fell sharply, down 0.29 percent to 81.38, against a basket of major currencies, aiding gold price gains.

While a cheaper dollar makes gold less expensive for buyers using non-U.S. currencies, the metal's recent gains have increasingly been coming despite -- not because of -- a weakening dollar, suggesting that the inverse correlation between the dollar and gold may be eroding.

Gold prices also appear less tied to changes in the value of the euro, which the yellow metal has been following up until the end of last month.

At the root of the apparently diminishing link between gold and both the euro and the dollar appears to be gold's re-emerging appeal as a safe haven.

Gold was also getting a boost Thursday from rising crude oil and copper prices, up on tensions around the Strait of Hormuz and signs that China's inflation may be under control, respectively.

Asian stocks were lower but all three of Europe's major equity indexes were higher: Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.34 percent, France's CAC 40 climbed 0.92 percent and Germany's DAX jumped 1.3 percent.

European stocks gained from Spain's first bond auction of the year going well, selling nearly twice as much as planned, and yields on Italian bonds declining slightly.

In the U.S. stock futures were flat to lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.1 percent, the Nasdaq 100 up 0.01 percent and the S&P 500 of 0.14 percent.

Gold for February delivery added $13.40 to $1,653, while gold for immediate delivery rose $11.11 to $1,654.06.

Silver for March delivery was up 45 cents to $30.34, while silver for immediate climbed 49 cents to $30.50.