Gold set for worst year in six, probes $1,800

  • U.S. weekly initial jobless claims data due at 1330 GMT
  • Gold on track for worst year since 2015, down about 5%
  • First week of January will provide direction - analyst

Dec 30 (Reuters) - Gold was on course to record its worst performance in six years, as prices dropped below a key support level in thin trade on Thursday, pressured by a higher dollar and firm Treasury yields.

Spot gold fell 0.4% to $1,796.47 per ounce by 0745 GMT, dipping below $1,800, a level it has closed above consistently for a week.

U.S. gold futures fell 0.5% to $1,797.10.

"The kind of back and forth seen over the last 48 hours is less indicative of any particular fundamental catalyst and much more of the market being very thin and volatility being amplified by that absence of liquidity," DailyFX currency strategist Ilya Spivak said.

Gold prices hit a one-month high on Tuesday, but slipped to a one-week low the very next session before closing unchanged, and were on track for their biggest annual percentage decline since 2015.

Spivak said the first week of January will provide directional clues as gold is caught between the magnitude of inflation and the U.S. Federal Reserve's steps to contain it.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields steadied near a one-month peak, raising the opportunity cost of holding non-interest paying gold.

The dollar index recovered from near a one-month low, weighing on gold demand by making it less appealing for holders of other currencies.

Asian shares flatlined on a slow Thursday as the spread of Omicron clouded what is the last trading day of the year for many exchanges.

U.S. weekly initial jobless claims data, a key metric of the country's economic health, is due at 1330 GMT later in the day.

Spot silver dipped 0.8% to $22.62 an ounce, platinum eased 0.7% to $961.35, and palladium fell 1.2% to $1,960.31, all set for their worst showing in several years.

Reporting by Bharat Govind Gautam and Seher Dareen in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Shounak Dasgupta

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