Gold was on course to record its worst performance in six years, though prices steadied above the key $1,800 per ounce level in thin trade on Thursday as a weak dollar countered pressure from firm Treasury yields.
Spot gold was down 0.1% at $1,801.40 per ounce by 3.53am GMT. US gold futures fell 0.2% to $1,802.30.
“The kind of back and forth seen over the last 48 hours is less indicative of any particular fundamental catalyst and much more of the market being very thin and volatility being amplified by that absence of liquidity,” said DailyFX currency strategist Ilya Spivak.
Gold prices hit a one-month high on Tuesday but slipped to a one-week low the very next session before closing unchanged, and were on track for their biggest annual percentage decline since 2015.
The first week of January will provide directional clues because gold is seen caught between how fast and in what direction inflation is going and what, and how much, the US Federal Reserve is doing to contain it, Spivak said.
Benchmark 10-year US Treasury yields firmed near a one-month peak, raising the opportunity cost of holding non-interest paying gold.
However, buoying the metal’s appeal, the dollar index steadied near a one-month low as investors looked beyond a surge in Omicron variant cases and favoured riskier currencies.
Asian shares got off to a listless start as the spread of Omicron clouded the last trading day of the year for many exchanges around the globe.
US weekly initial jobless claims data, a key metric of the country’s economic health usually monitored by market participants, is due at 1.30pm GMT later in the day.
Spot silver dipped 0.5% to $22.70 an ounce, platinum eased 0.3% to $964.96, and palladium fell 0.5% to $1,973.75. All set for their worst showing in several years.