LONDON – Gold prices ticked lower Friday, while the U.S. dollar inched up ahead of the monthly jobs report due later in the day.
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The precious metal was down 0.05% at $1,275.32 a troy ounce in midmorning trade.
Copper, meanwhile, was up 0.37% at $6,951 a metric ton after slightly better-than-expected data on China's services sector.
Gold prices were under gentle pressure from the stronger dollar, with investors awaiting the U.S. nonfarm payrolls job data, due out at 12:30 GMT.
The WSJ Dollar Index, which weighs the currency against a basket of 16 others, was last 0.13% higher, having risen 1% in the past month.
"Investors are absolutely watching the jobs figures," said Carsten Menke, a Julius Baer commodity analyst.
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Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal predicted the addition of 315,000 jobs to the economy during October. The U.S. jobs market contracted by 33,000 jobs in September, amid a wave of hurricanes and forest fires during the month.
The jobs report is a key indicator of the strength of the U.S. economy, and a strong showing could help smooth the way for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates as expected when it meets Dec. 13.
"In terms of that December FOMC meeting, that rate hike seems to be a given now. The report would need a pretty big beat in order to move gold by much," Julius Baer's Mr. Menke said.
Data from CME Group last put the probability of a December rate increase from the Fed at 98.2%.
Thursday's release in the U.S. of the Republican tax bill was also weighing on gold.
With House Republicans unveiling their plans to cut the corporate tax rate to 20% from 35%, "gold lost because of talk of a very pro-business tax policy being introduced," said David Madden, a market analyst at CMC Markets, in a note.
Among precious metals, silver was flat at $17.11 a troy ounce, palladium fell 0.43% to $994.70 a troy ounce and platinum fell 0.21% to $923.70 a troy ounce.
Among base metals, zinc fell 0.02% to $3,210.50 a metric ton, aluminum rose 0.78% to $2,188.50 a metric ton, tin fell 0.18% to $19,540 a metric ton, nickel gained 1.32% to $12,695 a metric ton and lead rose 0.90% to $2,466 a metric ton.
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Gold prices swung between small gains and losses Friday after the latest jobs report was mixed.
Futures for December delivery recently were less than 0.1% at $1,278.20 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange after falling 0.2% before the jobs report.
Although the Labor Department said the U.S. economy added fewer jobs than expected in October and wage growth slowed, revisions showed the labor market weathered hurricane damage better than previously estimated.
The report is unlikely to change the Federal Reserve's plans to raise interest rates again in December, meaning the outlook for gold was also largely unchanged, said Tai Wong, head of metals trading at BMO Capital Markets. He said he expected gold to continue reacting to moves in other assets such as the dollar, which makes dollar-denominated commodities more expensive to foreign buyers when it rises.
The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, pared earlier losses and was recently down less than 0.1%. Mr. Wong noted the market also was still digesting President Donald Trump's nomination of Jerome Powell as the next Fed chair and the Republican tax plan along with the jobs report.
"Unless there's a big move in the broader markets, I'm not seeing a big day in gold ahead of us," he said.
The dollar rebounding in recent weeks and concerns about the Fed's plans to raise rates gradually moving forward have gold trading roughly 5.6% off its year-to-date high from early September. The precious metal struggles to compete with yield-bearing assets when rates rise. Still, for the year, gold prices are up about 10% and have gotten a boost from geopolitical uncertainty.
Among base metals, copper for December delivery fell less than 0.1% to $3.1415 a pound. Like gold, the industrial metal has largely traded sideways in recent sessions. Still, it sits near three-year highs, boosted by a positive global economic backdrop, strong demand from China -- the world's largest copper consumer -- and the prospect electric vehicles will stoke demand for base metals moving forward.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 03, 2017 10:12 ET (14:12 GMT)