Gold prices are set to rise next week with the escalating crisis in Ukraine expected to boost the metal's safe-haven status.
As many as 12 of 19 analysts polled in a Kitco Gold Survey said they expected gold prices to rise next week, while four predicted that prices would drop and three forecast prices to remain unchanged.
The week ahead will see traders tracking the US Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting and US nonfarm payrolls data for the month of April.
Any further deterioration in the standoff between Russia and the Ukraine will bode well for gold prices.
Frank Lesh, broker and futures analyst with FuturePath Trading, said: "Gold went 'bid' as soon as there was violence and death. A diplomatic and political standoff is enough to support gold, but it takes guns going off to propel it higher."
"It is anyone's guess as to what happens in Ukraine, but with more violence gold will go higher and without it, steady to lower. The volatility means that gold remains a short-term trading opportunity, not a long-term position play. The rebound from 10-week lows was impressive this week and traders will most likely go home long for this weekend, so I will look for a higher market next week."
Charlie Nedoss, senior market strategist at LaSalle Futures Group, told Kitco: "Fundamentally, the situation in Ukraine could ratchet up (and that would support gold). You're seeing it in other markets, too. Look at the grains. You're not seeing it in energy, though, because crude oil is lower. But I wouldn't sell crude oil here."
Gold Ends Higher
Gold prices ended higher on 25 April, and finished slightly higher for the week as a whole.
Violence in Ukraine pulled down global equity markets and the US dollar.
US gold futures for delivery in June finished 0.8% higher at $1,300.80 an ounce on 25 April.
Prices inched up 0.5% for the week.
Spot gold added 0.5% to $1,301 an ounce.
Reports emerged this week that the British financial regulator has visited French bank Societe Generale's (SG) London offices to observe the so-called London gold fixing process, an age-old pricing of gold twice daily, as it probes the $20tn gold market for signs of misconduct.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which is examining how gold prices are calculated, observed the morning and afternoon conference calls at SG, during which the reference price used by central banks, jewellers and miners is determined, Bloomberg reported.
Five banks oversee the near century-old process of determining the prices of the yellow metal – Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, HSBC and Societe Generale.
The FCA is expected to make visits to the other banks as well. So far, the watchdog has not accused anybody of manipulating the price of gold.