Why Goldman's gold man recommends shorting gold

Currie's commodity clues
Currie's commodity clues

The Ukraine-Russia crisis and economic weakness in Europe and Japan have been supporting gold somewhat, but prices are being pressured by Federal Reserve policy, said Jeffrey Currie, head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs. That's why he sees the precious metal falling 17 percent from current levels by year end.

"Our target at the end of this year is $1,050, really driven by the view that we think that the Fed will ultimately be the dominate force here and put more downward pressure [on prices]," Currie told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday. "Gold is a hedge against a debasement in the U.S. dollar." He said he'd recommend shorting gold.

Gold traded around $1,270 an ounce Thursday morning. It's up nearly 4 percent this year, with a 2014 high of $1,384 in mid-March. Gold was down nearly 25 percent over the past 12 months and is off 33 percent from its all-time high of $1,923 in September 2011.

Not everyone is so down on bullion.

"I think we hold around $1,250, and I think we're going to see some bargain-hunting," RBC precious metals analyst George Gero told CNBC.

Read MoreWhy the crisis in Ukraine isn't saving gold

—By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere