Investing.com - With just four trading sessions separating gold bugs from the most anticipated closing event of the year (the December Federal Reserve meeting) price swings have become almost non-existential in the yellow metal, with Thursday's 0.2% retreat again showing how muted things could get.
Since Monday's five-month high of $1,256.60 hit on concerns of a delayed Brexit vote by UK Prime Minister Theresa May, gold futures haven't gone far in either direction, with focus squarely on whether the Fed would proceed or stall on a rate hike when it closes its meeting on Dec 19.
In the latest session, benchmark COMEX gold futures for February settled down $2.60 at $1,247.40 per troy ounce as PM May survived a bid by lawmakers within her ruling Conservatives to oust her, although her battered support base and maligned EU exit plan could have disastrous effects for Britain, analysts said.
"For now and the coming days, our focus is back on the Fed," said Tom Beller, market strategist for metals at RJO Futures in Chicago. "I think the $1,250 support base we've had in recent days has turned resistance, until we get a further idea of what will happen on Dec. 19 and beyond."
After a rash of dovish signals from central bank speakers over the past two weeks, bets for a fourth rate hike in 2018 were now at less than 80%, Investing.com's Fed Rate Monitor Tool showed. Previous rate increase cycles typically had bets nearer to 100% in the run-up to the central bank's announcement.
The tamped-down expectations for a December hike, along with more uncertainty over Fed policy from 2019, has taken its toll on the dollar, which as late as November had hit 16-month highs.
In Thursday's trade, the dollar index, a contrarian trade to bullion, was up 0.05% at 97.07 by 2:30 PM ET (19:30 GMT).
Among other precious metals on COMEX, silver slipped by 0.1% to $14.83 per ounce.
Palladium retreated by 0.3% to $1,191.40 per ounce, while sister metal platinum fell 1.2% to $797.50.
In base metals, COMEX copper slipped 0.1% to $2.80 per pound.