NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Gold prices were dropping on Thursday as a basket of global economic factors caused a choppy trade of the yellow metal. Gold for August delivery at the COMEX division of the CME was dipping $9.90 to $1,382.10 an ounce. The gold price traded as high as $1,394.40 and as low as $1,376 an ounce, while the spot price was falling $13.58. Gold was dipping lower in Europe's early-afternoon trading session as the U.S. dollar strengthened against the euro currency, and the precious metal dropped further in early-morning trades at the New York Mercantile Exchange as weekly jobless claims and a retail sales report printed stronger than expected. "The latest move which can be seen -- I think it started in the early afternoon today -- is broadly due to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar, at least that's the only thing that we can see here on our screens," said Daniel Briesemann, commodities analyst at Commerzbank AG, said in a phone call from Frankfurt. The Japanese yen surged against the greenback after the Nikkei in Tokyo tumbled 6.35%, but traders felt that Thursday's low double-digit losses weren't more than a range-bound trade. "It's just stuck here," said Tom Vitiello, principal at Aurum Options Strategies. "Obviously when the market over there is getting hit, people may be just liquidating their positions in a lot of different
securities ." Traders also were skeptical of Thursday's downward pressure as more than a range-bound move due to the thin volume being traded on COMEX gold. Silver prices for July delivery was lowering by 23 cents to $21.57 an ounce, while the U.S. dollar index was off 0.16% to $80.81. The Census Bureau reported that topline retail sales increased 0.6% in May, beating a Thomson Reuters poll of economists who were expecting a 0.4% boost. It was the strongest reading since February. The Labor Department said weekly initial jobless claims slipped 12,000 to a less-than-expected 334,000 in the week ended June 8. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters were looking for jobless claims of 345,000. The World Bank issued a global economic report that said it expected global gross domestic product to expand 2.2% in 2013. The report held that growth would continue to firm in advanced economies, despite widespread contraction in the eurozone.
Price action this week in the gold market has been mixed, but traders say they remain focused on the Federal Reserve's policy statement and economic projections due out Wednesday. Chairman Ben Bernanke will follow those reports with a press conference. Analysts and economists are prepared for Fed members to scale back the central bank's purchases of mortgage-backed securities and longer-term Treasuries. Such a move could trigger a pullback in gold as less monetary stimulus would suggest softening of inflationary pressure. Investors often view gold as a hedge against inflation, which had contributed to the huge gap higher in gold prices from 2008 to the top in 2011. There remains skepticism that the Fed will take such action in its upcoming meeting. "I think all eyes continue to point on the Fed ... and I think that the talk about tapering is very premature," said Anthem Blanchard, CEO of Anthem Vault. Traders are keeping an eye on India as the government begins to curb the imports of gold there. The government has required importers to pay 100% cash margin for letters of credit, and that compounded with a previously required 6% tax on gold imports, could cut into imports for the country. Physical demand from India and China has offered support to the yellow metal after the paper markets -- gold exchange traded funds and gold futures -- plummeted in mid-April, but that support has waned in recent weeks. "Despite the pullback in gold prices, physical demand in China and India is proving less impressive than last month's kilo-bar premiums would have suggested," Natixis wrote in its weekly commodities report on Thursday. Gold mining stocks were mostly lower on Thursday. Shares of Eldorado Gold ( EGO) were slipping 2%, and shares of Yamana Gold ( AUY) were off 1.5%. Among volume leaders, Barrick Gold ( ABX) was down 2%. Gold ETF SPDR Gold Trust ( GLD) was declining 0.87% to $133.08, while iShares Gold Trust ( IAU) was sliding 0.85% to $13.38. Commerzbank AG's Briesemann said outflows from gold ETFs has continued to come down in recent days. -- Written by Joe Deaux in New York. >Contact by Email.