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Gold Poised for Weekly Gain Amid Stellar US Jobs Report

January 4, 2019 at 14:35 by Andrew Moran

Gold futures are slumping from their multi-month lows on Friday, but they are poised for a weekly gain. The yellow metal is sliding on a better-than-expected jobs report, which is helping the US dollar pare its losses on the week. Gold prices are also trading downwards on reports that the US and China are inching towards a new trade agreement, sending equities higher.

February gold futures tumbled $5.60, or 0.43%, to $1,289.30 per ounce at 13:09 GMT on Friday. Gold is on track for a weekly gain of 0.43% and is so far up 0.33% on the year. The yellow metal suffered one of its worst years in 2018, slipping roughly 5%.

Silver, the sister commodity to gold, is flat to end the trading week. March silver futures jumped $0.01, or 0.07%, to $15.80 an ounce. The white metal is getting ready to record a stellar weekly boost of 2.2%. In 2018, silver prices posted double-digit losses, enduring one of its worst annual performances in a few years.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the US economy added 312,000 new jobs in December, beating market projections of 182,000. The unemployment rate edged up 3.9%, from 3.7% in November, primarily due to more people entering the workforce searching for jobs.

The biggest employment gains were found in education and health services (82,000), construction (38,000), manufacturing (32,000), leisure and hospitality (55,000), and retail trade (23,800). Information services was the only sector to contract (1,000).

The Department of Labor further reported that the average wage rose 11 cents, or 0.4%, to $27.48 per hour. The 12-month rate of hourly wages advanced 0.1% to 3.2%.

In 2018, 2.64 million jobs were created, the best performance in three years.

Positive labor numbers helped strengthen the US dollar as the greenback surged 0.18% to 96.44, bringing its weekly increase to 0.05%. A stronger buck is bad for commodities pegged in dollars because it makes it more expensive for foreign investors to purchase. The dollar had its best year since 2015 last year, surging about 5%.

Could this turn the Federal Reserve into a hawk again? If the labor market continues to record impressive gains, and the equities market reverses its volatility, then perhaps the central bank will return to its original plan of raising interest rates three times. The market is not penciling another rate hike until September.

In other metals markets, March copper futures tacked on $0.0375, or 1.46%, to $2.60 a pound. March platinum futures added $5.60, or 0.7%, to $804.90 an ounce. March palladium futures rose $1.70, or 0.14%, to $1,202.00 per ounce.

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