Gold futures for February were at $1,230 late Thursday morning after dipping to $1,224 an ounce. Steel said there is support at the recent lows of $1,220.
While the odds of a December move by the Fed seem to be rising, many economists do not believe the chances are high of action this month and see March as the more likely time frame.
"It's a close call next week," said Mesirow Chief Economist Diane Swonk. "I still think they need to lay the groundwork. I still say it's 50/50. I'm not going beyond that. I do think they have some explaining to do."
While some data, including employment figures, look better, price deceleration is a problem for the Fed. The lack of inflation also weighs on gold.
The November retail sales report highlights a problematic divide within the economy.
"The good news is the big-ticket stuff is selling. That goes into production; it goes into better jobs. This may even be better for college grads. You're getting better momentum, but the break is there's still two economies," Swonk said.
"You see why, for traditional retailers, they're so jittery. It's not holiday spending. It's residual earlier home sales spending and demand for vehicles," she said. "When you look at the traditional holiday stuff—not so great."
—By CNBC's Patti Domm. Follow here on Twitter @pattidomm.