Gold futures rose on Thursday after bargain hunters snapped up nicely-priced positions in the yellow metal, especially after uncertainty over Friday''s jobs report softened the dollar, which trades inversely with the yellow metal.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for February delivery traded at USD1,228.00 a troy ounce during U.S. trading, up 0.20%, up from a session low of USD1,223.10 and off a high of 1,230.60.

The February contract settled down 0.33% at USD1,225.50.

Futures were likely to find support at USD1,217.80 a troy ounce, Wednesday''s low, and resistance at USD1,247.70, Monday''s high.

Gold prices fell this week on solid data, especially after payroll processor ADP reported that U.S. private-sector nonfarm payrolls rose by 238,000 in December, surpassing consensus forecasts for an increase of 200,000.

The numbers fueled hopes that the official December jobs report due out on Friday will meet or beat expectations as well.

The Federal Reserve has said it will pay close attention to indicators when deciding the fate of its USD75 billion monthly bond-buying program — Fed bond purchases aim to prop up the economy by suppressing long-term borrowing costs, weakening the dollar as a side effect as long as they remain in effect, thus making gold an attractive hedge.

By Thursday, however, the dollar cooled its gains as the rally ended ahead of the Friday release of official U.S. December jobs figures, which gave gold prices room to rise on demand from bottom fishers.

Earlier Thursday, the Labor Department said the number of individuals filing for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week fell by 15,000 to 330,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 345,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to decline by 10,000, though investors were largely eager to see the December jobs data by afternoon trading on Thursday.

Meanwhile, silver for March delivery was up 0.24% to trade at USD19.585 a troy ounce, while copper futures for March delivery were down 1.37% and trading at USD3.297 a pound.

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