Gold futures carried Friday''s gains into Monday, buoyed by data revealing that the U.S. economy added way fewer payrolls in December than expected, which fueled expectations for the Federal Reserve to scale down its bond-buying program at a very gradual pace.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for February delivery traded at USD1,252.80 a troy ounce during U.S. trading, up 0.47%, up from a session low of USD1,243.20 and off a high of 1,254.20.
The February contract settled up 1.42% at USD1,246.90.
Futures were likely to find support at USD1,217.80 a troy ounce, Wednesday''s low, and resistance at USD1,237.30, the high from Dec. 10.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday reported that the U.S. economy added 74,000 jobs in December, well below expectations for a 196,000 increase and below an upwardly revised 241,000 rise the previous month.
The report also showed that the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 6.7% in December due to a weak participation rate, down from 7.0% in November. Analysts had expected the rate to remain unchanged last month.
The numbers weakened the dollar by fueling expectations for the Federal Reserve to trim its USD75 billion monthly bond-buying program at a slower pace than once expected.
Fed asset purchases tend to weaken the dollar by suppressing long-term interest rates, thus making gold an attractive hedge.
Gold saw added demand ahead of Tuesday''s release of U.S. retail sales, with concerns that a disappointing figure just days after a poor jobs report will increase the chances of a more gradual Fed tapering.
Capping gold''s gains were sentiments among many that the December jobs report may be an anomaly and the product of bad winter weather that put off hiring.
Meanwhile, silver for March delivery was up 0.91% and trading at USD20.408 a troy ounce, while copper futures for March delivery were down 0.07% and trading at USD3.339 a pound.