Investing.com - Gold ended Friday’s session mildly higher, but still posted the worst weekly loss in four months following the Federal Reserve’s decision to taper its monthly bond-buying program by $10 billion for the third consecutive meeting and amid indications a rate hike from the central bank could come sooner than expected.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery picked up 0.41%, or $5.50, on Friday to settle the week at $1,379.00 an ounce.
On Thursday, prices of the precious metal fell to $1,320.80 an ounce, the lowest since February 28.
Gold futures were likely to find support at $1,320.80 a troy ounce, the low from March 20 and resistance at $1,360.20, the high from March 19.
Comex gold prices ended the week with a loss of 3.11%, or $43.00, the worst since November, amid expectations that the Fed could hike interest rates earlier than previously thought.
Gold sold off and the U.S. dollar rallied after Fed Chair Janet Yellen indicated on Wednesday that the central bank could begin to raise interest rates about six months after its bond-buying program winds up, which is expected to happen this fall.
The comments prompted investors to bring forward expectations for a rate hike to as soon as March of next year.
The central bank said that it would reduce its monthly stimulus program by an additional $10 billion to a total of $55 billion a month, in a widely anticipated decision.
The Fed also updated its forward guidance, discarding the 6.5% unemployment threshold for considering when to increase borrowing costs and said it will look at a wide range of information.
Meanwhile, investors continued to monitor events in Ukraine, where tension over moves by neighboring Russia in the Crimean region have heightened demand for safe haven assets.
The political standoff between the West and Russia following the annexation of Crimea escalated after the U.S. imposed harsher sanctions on Moscow. The European Union also agreed to wider sanctions against Russia.
In the coming week, investors will be looking ahead to U.S. data from the housing sector, as well as reports on consumer confidence and durable goods to further gauge the strength of the economy and the need for stimulus.
Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers increased their bullish bets in gold futures in the week ending March 18.
Net longs totaled 138,429 contracts, up 11.1% from net longs of 123,007 in the preceding week.
Elsewhere on the Comex, silver for May delivery declined 0.59%, or 12 cents, on Friday to settle the week at $20.31. Silver tumbled to $20.14 an ounce on Thursday, the lowest since February 13.
On the week, the May silver futures contract lost 5.13%, or $1.10 an ounce.
The CFTC data also showed that net silver longs totaled 18,239 contracts as of last week, down 13.1% from net longs of 20,991 in the preceding week.
Meanwhile, copper for May delivery rose 0.75% on Friday to settle the week at $2.950 a pound. The industrial metal fell to $2.877 a pound on March 19, the lowest since July 2010.
On the week, Comex copper prices ended down 0.02%, as ongoing concerns over the health of China’s economy dampened demand for growth-linked assets.
Attention now shifts to the release of HSBC''s March China Purchasing Managers'' Index for manufacturing, due Monday. The Asian nation is the world’s largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption last year.
According to the CFTC, net copper shorts totaled 21,965 contracts as of last week, up 24.5% from net shorts of 10,473 in the preceding week.