Gold comes close to breaching the $400 mark

Gold futures closed lower for the first time in five sessions Thursday, falling just shy of the key $400-an-ounce level.

December gold ended down 70 cents to $394.30 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the session, the benchmark contract reached a high of $398.40—its highest intraday level since March 1996, CBSMarketWatch.com reports.

Prices have risen a total of $14.30 an ounce over the past four Nymex trading sessions.

“The $400 mark is such an important psychological benchmark,” Brien Lundin, editor of Gold Newsletter, wrote in his latest report. But he notes, “[the] metal barely has time to plant a flag on the summit, before emotional exhaustion drops the market right back down again. It will probably take two or three assaults before the metal finally conquers this [$400] level.”

John Person, head financial analyst at Infinity Brokerage Services, said that if a “weakening trend” in the U.S. dollar continues it “just may be the catalyst to propel gold above that $400 resistance barrier.” On Thursday, the dollar lost more ground against the yen and euro, and major stock indexes fell, a combination potentially increasing the likelihood that more investment funds will flow into gold.

“The greenback is the key at the moment, but with the ultimate goal now so close, I think the market may well generate some upwards momentum of its own, particularly if $400 is breached,” James Moore, an analyst at TheBullionDesk.com, reportedly told clients.

Against this backdrop, Person reportedly said he is confident that gold will reach the $400-to-$420 range by the year’s end.

What Person reportedly called “fundamental issues”—the federal budget deficits and the Federal Reserve’s stance on keeping interest rates low, among others—are likely to continue to lend support for gold. And “if interest rates are low going into the holidays, consumers may have a better incentive to spend,” he reportedly said.