Investing.com - Gold futures jumped more than 1% on Friday, as growing concerns over the conflict in eastern Ukraine overshadowed stronger than expected U.S. jobs data.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for June delivery ended Friday’s session with a gain of 1.52%, or $19.50 an ounce, to settle at $1,302.90.
Earlier in the session, gold rose to a daily high of $1,304.90, the most since April 28. Gold lost 0.96%, or $12.50, on Thursday to settle at $1,283.40 an ounce.
Gold futures were likely to find support at $1,268.40 a troy ounce, the low from April 24 and resistance at $1,306.50, the high from April 28.
Comex gold prices ended the week with a gain of 0.16%, or $2.10, the second consecutive weekly advance, as demand for safe haven assets strengthened amid intensifying tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Ukraine''s army and pro-Russian rebels continued to skirmish on Friday, stoking fears that the crisis will develop and drag the U.S. deeper into the standoff.
The United Nation’s Security Council met about Ukraine on Friday in an emergency session, while U.S. President Barack Obama threatened to slap fresh sanctions on Russia if Moscow disrupts Ukrainian elections scheduled for May 25.
The West is accusing Russia of leading a separatist revolt in eastern Ukraine after it annexed Crimea last month.
Gold, seen as a safe haven investment, usually benefits from geopolitical turmoil.
Meanwhile, market players digested a report showing that the U.S. economy added jobs at the fastest pace in more than two years in April, but also showed weaker earnings growth and a drop in labor force participation.
The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy added 288,000 jobs in April, well above expectations for jobs growth of 210,000. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to a five-and-a-half year low of 6.3%, compared to expectations for 6.6%.
The report also showed that the labor force participation rate, which measures the proportion of people either working or looking for work, fell to 62.8% from 63.2% in March. Meanwhile, average wage growth edged down in April from the same month last year, dampening the medium term inflation outlook.
Earlier in the week, preliminary data showed that U.S. gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of just 0.1% in the first three months of the year, well below forecasts for an expansion of 1.2%.
Despite the sharp slowdown in growth the Federal Reserve said Wednesday it would reduce its bond purchases to $45 billion a month. The Fed also said interest rates would remain on hold at record lows for a "considerable time" after the bond-buying program ends later this year.
The U.S. central bank acknowledged that first quarter growth was far weaker than expected, but added that growth had started to pick up in recent weeks.
In the week ahead, investors will be looking ahead to Monday’s report on U.S. service sector activity and Wednesday’s testimony by Fed Chair Janet Yellen on monetary policy and the economy.
Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers slightly decreased their bullish bets in gold futures in the week ending April 29.
Net longs totaled 89,954 contracts, down 0.68% from net longs of 90,572 in the preceding week.
Also on the Comex, silver for July delivery surged 2.64%, or 50.3 cents, on Friday to settle the week at $19.54 a troy ounce. Silver declined 0.68%, or 13.1 cents, on Thursday to end at $19.04 an ounce.
On the week, the July silver futures contract lost 0.76%, or 15.0 cents an ounce.
Data from the CFTC showed that net silver longs fell to 1,862 contracts as of last week, down 28.9% from net longs of 2,620 in the preceding week.
Elsewhere in metals trading, copper for July delivery added 1.61%, or 4.8 cents, on Friday to settle the week at $3.124 a pound by close of trade.
On the week, Comex copper prices lost 1.72%, or 5.4 cents a pound, amid concerns over a slowdown in demand from top consumer China.
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 longs totaled 5,067 contracts as of last week, compared to net shorts of 3,527 in the preceding week.
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