By Dave Brown - Exclusive to Gold Investing News In the wider context of central banks' direct gold investment and gold price volatility within the shorter term, a noteworthy observation is the relatively stable investment in gold equity research by the Bank of Nova Scotia earlier this week. The bank's strong predisposition for gold is widely known, as Scotia-Mocatta, a division of the bank dates back to the London gold bullion bank in 1671, and with a history of 340 years is the only existing member of both the London Gold and Silver Fixes to retain its original seat. In addition to a history of trading gold, the bank's recent hiring of junior gold mining analyst Ovais Habib may demonstrate support for an increased exposure to gold equities. Earlier this year, Scotia had previously hired gold mining analyst Tanya Jakusconek, to follow the larger capitalized gold producers, leveraging expertise in precious metals trading business and attempting to enhance overall rankings of its research departments. Trending marginally to the downside in annual rankings of research departments prior to 2011 on influential Brendan Wood International surveys, Scotia has declined from second in 2006 to fifth in 2010. The increased focus on research and analysis of mining and resource development should effectively synchronize with the bank's acquisitions and expansion in the mineral-rich nations of South America over the last 5 years. The bank has recently obtained banks in both Colombia as well as Brazil, as a part of approximately $2.5 billion of international investment. Interestingly, both Brazil and Colombia stood out as leading attractive national investment venues in a Brendan Wood International collective study of more than 9000 senior executives, brokers, analysts and institutional investors. Gold forecasts At a recent conference, Patricia Mohr vice-president, economics and commodity market specialist with the Bank of Nova Scotia disclosed a conservative forecast of $1650 per troy ounce for average gold prices for next year. This cautious and conservative target gold price is footnoted by Ms. Mohr, “There is upside risk to this [gold price forecast], particularly if the European Central Bank has to buy a lot of Italian and Spanish bonds in the next year to add liquidity.” A somewhat contradictory and more bullish position for gold prices is held by Don Coxe, Strategy Advisor for BMO Financial Group. During an appearance on BNN Mr. Coxe noted, “I still believe that the gold story remains a cornerstone of a portfolio because there is so much human nature and so much financial risk and we have the destruction of the basic capital asset models which means we don't have the obvious decision making processes out there for the capital formation. Because of those risks, gold which has always had value will remain valuable.” Spot market gold price fluctuation The market has demonstrated a more muted appetite for risk as gold prices had rallied almost 7 percent over the preceding four trading sessions. Traders and speculators may be hesitant to surrender gold's traditional safe haven status while so many pervasive questions surrounding Europe's solution to its debt crisis exist. According to Kitco's gold index the spot market gold price closed at $1745.70 per troy ounce trading within the range of $1,749 per troy ounce to a low of $1,707.20 per troy ounce.