- Gold prices rose in early afternoon U.S. trading on Thursday after the minutes of the Federal Reserve''s April policy meeting revealed that rate hikes remain far off on the horizon, while ongoing tensions in Ukraine bolstered the yellow metal''s safe-haven appeal.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for June delivery traded at 1,295.00 a troy ounce during U.S. trading, up 0.54%, up from a session low of $1,290.20 and off a high of $1,303.90.

The June contract settled down 0.50% at $1,288.10 on Wednesday.

Futures were likely to find support at $1,282.90 a troy ounce, Wednesday''s low, and resistance at $1,305.70, Monday''s high.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released the minutes of its April policy meeting, which revealed the U.S. central bank plans to continue tapering its monthly bond-buying program and rely on other tools to normalize monetary policy, though actual rate hikes won''t come after considerable period of time.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the Fed has snapped up trillions of dollars in bonds from banks to spur recovery by suppressing long-term interest rates, weakening the dollar in the process, thus boosting gold''s appeal as a hedge.

Investors have priced in an eventual end to Fed asset purchases, though the prospects that benchmark interest rates will remain at rock-bottom levels long after stimulus programs wrap up gave gold a boost on Thursday as did soft data out of the labor market.

The Labor Department reported earlier that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits last week increased by 28,000 to 326,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 298,000. Analysts had expected jobless claims to rise by 12,000 to 310,000, though markets shrugged off the data.

Geopolitical concerns elevated gold prices also, as fears persist the Ukraine crisis will escalate and drag the U.S. deeper into the conflict, which could hamper recovery.

Skirmishes with pro-Russian separatists left 11 Ukrainian soldiers dead in Ukraine''s eastern region of Donetsk.

Ukraine will hold presidential elections on Sunday, and concerns persist that Russia will meddle in the voting and aggravate the crisis.

U.S. and European officials have already warned that Russia would face sector-related sanctions if Moscow disrupts the upcoming elections.

Many U.S. companies are heavily exposed to Russia and Europe for business, and concerns persist that sanctions slapped on Moscow could dampen revenues.

Meanwhile, silver for July delivery was up 0.93% at $19.517 a troy ounce, while copper futures for July delivery were up 0.52% at $3.139 a pound.

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