On Thursday, gold for February delivery was down $11.20 an ounce, at $1,676.30, and spot gold dropped $8.90 to finish at $1,663.50. Gold bugs are eyeing what happens on Friday, when an important US employment report is due out.

Meanwhile, gold observers are measuring the metal's performance in 2012 — its 12th consecutive year of price increases — and the result is a gain against every fiat currency. A report by Goldcore Bullion and Wealth Management, published by Business Insider, shows that "[g]old rose 7% in US dollars and was 4.9% higher in euro terms and 2.2% higher in sterling terms or to put it more correctly the major fiat currencies fell these amounts in 2012 against immutable gold."

Deck the halls with bars of gold

King World News reported that bullion dealer Bill Haynes, president of CMI Gold & Silver, said the 2012 holiday season was one of the best for gold and silver buying. According to Haynes, his company did more business during the three weeks of Christmas holidays than during any single week in years, with one buyer purchasing $6.8 million in metals.

Sales of American Eagle silver coins were particularly robust. While American Eagle gold bullion coin sales dropped in 2012, from a million ounces to 753,000 ounces, December 2012 gold coin sales increased to 76,000 ounces from December 2011′s 65,500, Mineweb reported. Silver bullion coin sales were also down in 2012, but were up substantially last month, totalling 1.635 million ounces — the third highest in Silver Eagle's history.

Meanwhile, in India, the world's largest consumer of gold, the country's central bank announced new regulations to moderate imports of the yellow metal. One way, according to a working group set up to study the issue, would be to design financial products that provide returns equivalent to gold. Too much imported gold has brought India $64 billion in fiscal deficit.