Investors are selling gold as the end of the year draws closer without a compromise in hand for the U.S. budget.

Gold for February delivery dropped $21.10 to finish Thursday at $1,696.80 per ounce.

Investors are uncertain about what's ahead if Republicans and President Barack Obama fail to agree on a new budget. Without an agreement, tax increases and spending cuts will take place Jan. 1 that many economists believe could send the U.S. into a recession.

The Federal Reserve has announced measures to support the economy but predicts growth will be no more than 3 percent in 2013.

In other trading, prices are lower for industrial metals, oil, wholesale gasoline, wheat, and corn. Orange juice futures and soybeans are higher.

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