Investing.com - Gold futures ended Friday’s session at a six-week low, as upbeat U.S. economic data underlined expectations that the Federal Reserve will begin to raise rates sooner than previously thought.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for June delivery fell to a daily low of $1,286.10 an ounce, the weakest level since February 12.
Gold ended Friday’s session down 0.04%, or 50 cents, to settle at $1,294.30 an ounce. On Thursday, prices of the precious metal lost 0.66%, or $8.60 to settle at $1,294.80 an ounce.
Gold futures were likely to find support at $1,284.10 a troy ounce, the low from February 12 and resistance at $1,307.50, the high from March 27.
Comex gold prices ended the week with a loss of 3.03%, or $40.50, the second consecutive weekly decline.
The Commerce Department reported Friday that U.S. consumer spending rose 0.3% last month after a downwardly revised gain of 0.2% in January
A separate report showed that the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index slipped to 80.0 in March, down from 81.6 the month before. It was higher than the preliminary March reading of 79.9 but below forecasts of 80.5.
Data on Thursday showed that U.S. jobless claims fell to their lowest level since late November last week, while U.S. economic fourth quarter growth was revised higher.
The upbeat data added to hopes that the slowdown in economic activity seen at the start of the year would be temporary.
Gold has been under heavy selling pressure in recent sessions amid growing expectations that the Fed will raise interest rates sooner than expected.
Market watchers brought forward expectations for a rate increase by U.S. central bank after Fed Chair Janet Yellen suggested that a rate hike might come about six months after the bank’s stimulus program ends, which is expected to happen in the fall.
In the week ahead, investors will be looking to Friday’s U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for March for further indications on the strength of the labor market and the need for stimulus.
Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers decreased their bullish bets in gold futures in the week ending March 25.
Net longs totaled 120,042 contracts, down 13.3% from net longs of 138,429 in the preceding week.
Elsewhere on the Comex, silver for May delivery picked up 0.42%, or 8.2 cents, on Friday to settle the week at $19.79. Silver tumbled to $19.57 an ounce on Thursday, the lowest since February 5.
On the week, the May silver futures contract lost 2.46%, or 50 cents an ounce.
The CFTC data also showed that net silver longs plunged to 7,442 contracts as of last week, down 59.1% from net longs of 18,239 in the preceding week.
Meanwhile, copper for May delivery rallied to a session high of $3.048 a pound on Friday, the most since March 11, before trimming gains to settle at $3.041 a pound.
Copper surged amid indications that China’s government is prepared to do more to shore up the cooling economy after China''s premier Li Keqiang said the country has policies in place to counter economic volatility.
The remarks helped ease concerns over recent signs of a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy. The Asian nation is the world’s largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption last year.
On the week, Comex copper prices ended up 3.09%, or 9.4 cents.
According to the CFTC, net copper shorts totaled 25,034 contracts as of last week, up 12.25% from net shorts of 21,965 in the preceding week.