Gold experts have further cut back price forecasts for the metal this year after a sluggish first half, a quarterly Reuters poll showed on Monday, while gains in the dollar and a dearth of physical demand are likely to clip any attempted return to last September's record high for the rest of the year.
The precious metal is still on track to post another record-breaking average in 2012, extending its bull run into a twelfth year as ultra-loose monetary policy in key economies keeps interest rates at rock bottom.
But the median spot price forecast has been cut to USD 1,685 an ounce from USD 1,750 projected in a similar poll at the end of the first quarter, and USD 1,765 forecast at the start of the year.
"In the main, the dollar will be holding gold back, but the dollar can be trumped as the key driver for gold - and the key to that is heightened economic or political turmoil," said Ross Norman, chief executive of precious metals trader Sharps Pixley.
"The economic crisis has a long way to play out, and as such, there should also be ongoing volatility in prices."
While gold prices have averaged just over USD 1,640 so far this year, beating last year's record average spot price of USD 1,565, their overall performance has been unimpressive.
Gold ended June little better than flat on the year after its worst first-half showing since 2007.
Prices are expected to climb to USD 1,677.50 in the third quarter and USD 1,750 in the fourth. In 2013, the 29 forecasters surveyed expect them to extend their rally with another record average price of USD 1,791.25.
While strength in the dollar resulting from the burgeoning euro zone debt crisis has proved a powerful drag on prices, expectations that attention could switch to the flagging US economy later in the year has kept the metal underpinned.
Suggestions that the Federal Reserve could be forced to further loosen monetary policy, which sparked a few sharp rallies in the first half, still have the power