Gold may extend November's 6 percent slide – the worst monthly loss since June – if Friday's U.S. jobs data beats forecasts, increasing the odds of that the Federal Reserve may exit its stimulus program sooner than anticipated, according to CNBC's survey of strategists, analysts and traders.
Economists expect the U.S. economy to have created 185,000 jobs in November, down from 204,000 jobs in October, according to a Reuters survey of economists. Barclays' economists are above consensus, forecasting payrolls gains of 200,000, helping push unemployment lower to a post-crisis low of 7.1 percent.
"If payrolls continue to track close to 200k per month, we feel that the December meeting could go down to the wire, suggesting that gold in particular could resume its downward trend," said Credit Suisse commodity strategists led by Ric Deverell said in a research report released on Dec. 2.
"We would expect a strong jobs number to spark the next leg down for gold, with a challenge of the year's low of $1,180 possible," they added.
(Read more: Gold suffers worst November since 1978)
CNBC's latest survey of market sentiment showed 73 percent of respondents (16 out of 22) expect prices to fall this week, 3 out of 22 say prices will trade around current levels while an additional 3 say prices will rise.
Even a solid payrolls number this week, however, may not necessarily mean the Fed will cut bond purchases at this month's meeting due to the risk of this year's acrimonious budget battles resurfacing in the first-quarter of 2014 when Washington faces looming debt ceiling deadlines.
"It's all about payrolls, which in my opinion will surprise to the upside, hence dollar positive, gold negative but it's unlikely that the Fed will taper this December - give them another month," said Sankalp Shangari of Shangari Ventures, a Singapore-based commodities trading, advisory and debt raising firm.
Evidence of sustained employment growth at a "reasonably high level" – one of the preconditions for the Fed to taper – may trigger more selling in the gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs), leading to further price falls, said UBS commodity strategists Dominic Schnider and Giovanni Staunovo in comments emailed to CNBC.
"Gold is ready for the next leg lower," Schnider and Staunovo said. "Outflows from gold ETFs have moderately accelerated in recent days and should keep this pace."