Updated from 11:35 a.m. ESTGold prices struggled to find direction in a choppy trading session Thursday but eventually closed higher, despite another up day for the greenback. February-dated contracts added 50 cents to finish at $613.90 an ounce on the Comex division of the Nymex. The exchange-traded funds that hold bullion, iShares Comex Gold Trust ( IAU) and streetTracks Gold Shares ( GLD), were little changed. "It's quite dispiriting to see it bounce around like this," says Matt Turner, a commodities analyst at Virtual Metals in London. "The impact of the stronger dollar on gold has been more marked because everyone was expecting a weaker dollar." The newly published January edition of the Fortis metals monthly, produced by Virtual Metals, is forecasting that gold will hit $640 in 12 months, but then fall back to $550 in two years. Much of the shorter-term opinion is being driven by the expected softness in the U.S. currency, which tends to move inversely in value against gold. But for now at least, things don't seem to be working out that way. Helping boost the dollar Thursday was another piece of positive economic news. The Labor Department said new claims for unemployment fell to 299,000 last week, lower than the consensus forecast of 320,000. The revised figure for the prior week totaled 325,000.