Gold prices are expected to extend their 2014 recovery and hit $1,400 an ounce later in the year, the highest since September, according to analysts at Citi Futures and RBC Wealth Management.

Prices settled above the 100-day moving average for a second straight session on 11 February, a first since October.

Gold futures for delivery in April rose 1.2% on 11 February to $1,289.80, capping a fifth session of gains. The 100-day moving average is near $1,270.71.

The precious metal has also closed above its 50-day gauge in every session since 23 January.

That pattern indicated prices would rally 8.5% by the end of March 2014, said Sterling Smith of Citi Futures.

Prices would reach $1,400 by the end of 2014 if open interest, or the number of contracts outstanding, was to rise, according to George Gero, a vice president at RBC Wealth Management.

"Once we see more investors return to the market, prices will start going higher," Gero told Bloomberg. "The technicals indicate that there is some strength," he added.

"The sentiment seems to be changing gradually, and gold is attracting bids," said Michael Gayed, chief investment strategist at New York-based Pension Partners, which manages assets worth $250m (£151m, €183m).

"Money printing will continue to help gold. I would say that some people are returning to gold, and some are buying on technical levels," Gayed told the news agency.

"While we have seen some repair, it's very early to call it a recovery," said Walter 'Bucky' Hellwig, who helps oversee assets worth $17bn at BB&T Wealth Management.

"We need money to start flowing back into the market to see any meaningful change in outlook," Hellwig added.

Bearish Views

While prices in New York were on track to log a second consecutive month of gains, Morgan Stanley analysts including Joel Crane forecast "more pain to come" for gold investors, they said in a 22 January report. The bank cut its 2014 target by 12% to $1,160.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs has said prices could hover at $1,050 over the next 12 months, the bank said in a 12 January report.

Signs of fading progress in the US labour market and turbulence in emerging market economies helped drive gold prices 7.3% higher in 2014, after a 28% drop last year that was the biggest in 32 years.

Bullion soared more than 500% in the 12 consecutive years of gains through 2012. The metal struck a record $1,923.70 in September 2011.