North Korea made a failed missile test launch on Sunday, adding to regional tensions that have escalated over the past weeks as U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a tough rhetorical line with Pyongyang.
The firm US dollar also pressured gold prices, analysts said.
Shares and the USA dollar dipped on Monday while US bond yields slumped to five-month lows after soft US economic data hurt investor sentiment already frayed by worries over North Korea and coming French elections.
Spot gold slipped 0.57 percent at $1,281.91 per ounce as of 1129 GMT, but was still near its highest level since November touched on Monday of $1,295.42.
"Everyone is following the French election closely this weekend, as the outcome may have a significant impact on the price of gold in the coming months", Pehowich said.
"Indeed, despite the recent upswing in metal prices, we have seen a relatively muted response from the equities, with sector average multiples remaining largely flat, suggesting that investors are expecting some metal price weakness heading into Fed meetings in May and June".
New York-listed SPDR Gold Shares ETF, the world's biggest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings rose more than six tonnes on Thursday, the biggest one-day inflow in a month.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence reassured Japan of American commitment to reining in North Korea's nuclear and missile ambitions on Tuesday, after warning that U.S. strikes in Syria and Afghanistan showed the strength of its resolve.
Adding to these concerns, the U.S. military last week dropped the largest non-nuclear device it has ever used in combat on a network of caves and tunnels used by Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan.
Silver futures declined 0.242 dollar or 1.3 percent to close at USD 18.31 per troy ounce at the COMEX.
U.S. gold futures were down 0.4% at US$1,288.80.
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot index fell 0.4 percent and has sunk about 4.8 percent from a high reached in January.
Gold prices in the global market have also been rising, as the U.S. military's bombardment of Afghanistan has fanned fears in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula.
Platinum fell 0.1% to US$972.45, while palladium was down 0.3% at US$772.