By Luc Cohen and Clara Denina
NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – Gold rose on Friday as investors assessed U.S. non-farm payrolls data that may indicate the Federal Reserve will delay an immediate interest rate hike, but was still on course for a weekly fall.
Nonfarm payrolls increased 215,000 last month as a pickup in construction and manufacturing employment offset further declines in the mining sector, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate held at a seven-year low of 5.3 percent.
“The trade is still speculating that this is still going to be a more protracted process than had been anticipated,” said Eli Tesfaye, senior market strategist for brokerage RJO Futures in Chicago, calling the report “not overly positive” for economic conditions and more on the neutral side.
Spot gold (XAU=), which hit a session low of $ 1,082.76 an ounce immediately after the U.S. jobs report, managed to rebound 0.5 percent to $ 1,094.54 by 2:31 p.m. EDT (1831 GMT). It had fallen to $ 1,077 on July 24, its weakest since February 2010.
Prices were still marginally down on the week, with a seventh weekly loss in a row matching a similar losing streak in May-June 1999.
U.S. gold for December delivery (GCcv1) settled up 0.4 percent at $ 1,094.10 an ounce.
The U.S. dollar reversed earlier gains to turn negative and fall 0.2 percent against a basket of leading currencies (.DXY), contributing to a bout of investor short-covering in gold, Tesfaye said. [.EU]
Analysts continued to see gold’s upside as temporary, due to strong prospects for the dollar as investors position themselves for an interest rate increase in the United States this year.
Higher interest rates would put non-yield-bearing gold under further pressure, increasing the opportunity cost of holding the metal.
A slew of upbeat U.S. economic data, including Thursday’s positive weekly jobless claims, shows “there’s not really much to stop the Fed from increasing rates”, said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.
“There’s not a lot of natural reasons for investors to buy gold at the moment. The dollar is getting stronger and there’s no real sign of inflation on the horizon with weaker oil prices and other commodities,” Spooner said.
Silver prices rose 1.8 percent to trade at $ 14.85 an ounce, its sharpest single-session gain since May 13, as physical demand has boosted the market up from low prices, Tesfaye said.
Spot platinum (XPT=) was up 0.9 percent at $ 959 an ounce, while palladium (XPD=) rose 0.5 percent to $ 597.97.
(Additional reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr in Manila; Editing by William Hardy, Susan Thomas and Jonathan Oatis)