On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for February delivery traded at USD1,657.25 a troy ounce during U.S. morning trade, down 0.2% on the day.
Prices held in a tight trading range between USD1,653.25 a troy ounce, the daily low and a session high of USD1,660.95 a troy ounce.
The Conference Board, a market research group said earlier that its index of consumer confidence fell to 65.1 in December from a reading of 71.5 in November. Analysts had expected the index to decline to 70.0 in December.
The Expectations Index declined sharply to 66.5 from 80.9. The Present Situation Index increased to 62.8 from 57.4 last month.
A separate report showed that U.S. new home sales rose less-than-expected in November, while the previous month’s figure was revised down.
The U.S. Census Bureau said new home sales rose by 4.4% to a seasonally adjusted 377,000 units in November, compared to expectations for an increase to 378,000.
New home sales for October were revised down to 361,000 units from a previously reported 368,000.
Also Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor said in a report earlier that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending December 22 fell by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000, compared to expectations for a decline of 2,000 to 360,000.
Jobless claims for the preceding week were revised up to 362,000 from a previously reported 361,000,
Meanwhile, market players remained focused on developments surrounding the fiscal cliff in the U.S., approximately USD600 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts due to come into effect on January 1.
President Barack Obama was to end his vacation and return to Washington on Thursday in order to take part in talks to avert the crisis ahead of the year-end deadline. Both chambers of Congress are also due to return to work on Thursday.
Without a deal, the U.S. could fall back into recession and drag much of the world down with it.
In addition, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said Wednesday that the USD16.4 trillion debt ceiling limit will be hit on December 31. Geithner added that "accounting measures" will be taken to create "headroom" in order to delay a technical violation.
The temporary moves would create USD200 billion in “headroom,” enough to last for approximately two months under normal circumstances.
Elsewhere on the Comex, silver for March delivery was flat to trade at USD30.03 a troy ounce, while copper for March delivery added 0.15% to trade at USD3.603 a pound.