Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange dipped Monday as investors were waiting to scrutinize minutes of the Federal Reserve's December meeting to get more clues about the central bank's future monetary policy plans. The most active gold contract for February delivery dropped 0.6 dollar, or 0.05 percent, to settle at 1,238 dollars per ounce. Gold experienced a sudden, large but brief drop in prices in early trading session, when gold prices tumbled by 30 dollars an ounce on heavy volume. Some market analysts attributed the "flash crash" to price manipulation, while others thought it might have been a mistaken trade or a large fund or bank liquidating its gold position. Most investors expect that the minutes of the Federal Reserve Federal Open Market Committee's December meeting, due to be released on Wednesday, will reveal a wider consensus for the withdrawal of the quantitative easing policy in 2014. Investors also anticipate that the December jobs data to be released Friday will be negative to gold, and as a result, gold prices may fall towards 1,200 dollars per ounce. Economic figures released Monday came mixed from the United States, the world's largest economy. The Institute for Supply Management said its services index dropped to 53 in December from 53.9 in November, the slowest pace in 2013. Though the data still signals expanding activity as any reading above 50 denotes expansion, it suggests economic growth may remain modest in the coming months. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said Monday that the orders for goods produced in U.S. factories jumped 1.8 percent in November, higher than the market expectation for a 1.6-percent increase. Silver for March delivery lost 10.8 cents, or 0.53 percent, to close at 20.103 dollars per ounce, while Platinum for April delivery rose 2.2 dollars, or 0.16 percent, to close at 1,416.4 dollars per ounce.