Gold and Silver Finish February in the Red

On Thursday, gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for April delivery, the most active contract, dropped $17.60 to settle at $1,578.10 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures for March fell 55 cents to close at $28.40. It was gold’s fifth consecutive monthly loss.

Both precious metals declined as jobless claims came in better-than-expected at 344,000, down 22,000 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The media forecast called for 360,000 applications. The four-week moving average declined about 1.9 percent month-over-month to 355,000.

However, the improvement still points to a sluggish economy and will not likely have a significant impact on the headline unemployment rate, which comes out next Friday. The official rate ticked up from 7.8 percent in December to 7.9 percent in January, and only the most optimistic observers are expecting it to drop in the February report.

By the end of the day, the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD) dropped 1.0 percent, while the iShares Silver Trust (NYSEARCA:SLV) closed 1.7 percent in the red. Gold miners (NYSEARCA:GDX) such as Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) and Yamana Gold (NYSE:AUY) both declined more than 2.0 percent. Silver names such as Hecla Mining (NYSE:HL) and Pan American Silver (NASDAQ:PAAS) fell 3.70 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively.

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Disclosure: Long EXK, AG, HL, PHYS