- Gold prices extended gains on Thursday to hit the highest levels of the session after data showed that the number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week rose more than expected.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for June delivery rallied to a session high of $1,303.90 a troy ounce, the most since May 19, before paring gains to last trade at $1,301.60 during U.S. morning hours, up 1.05%, or $13.50.

Gold tumbled to $1,282.90 on Wednesday, the lowest since May 12, before trimming losses to settle at $1,288.10, down 0.5%, or $6.50.

Gold prices were likely to find support at $1,277.00 an ounce, the low from May 12 and resistance at $1,305.70, the high from May 19.

Also on the Comex, silver for July delivery surged 1.97%, or 38.0 cents, to trade at $19.71 a troy ounce

The U.S. Department of Labor said earlier that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits increased by 28,000 last week to 326,000. Analysts had expected jobless claims to rise by 12,000 to 310,000 last week.

Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s April policy meeting published Wednesday indicated that the central bank continues to see a slow improvement in the economy and reiterated that rates are likely to remain on hold at record lows for some time after its asset purchase program ends.

Meanwhile, traders weighed uncertainty surrounding developments in Ukraine after at least 11 Ukrainian soldiers died in an attack on troops in Ukraine''s eastern region of Donetsk.

Ukraine will hold presidential elections on May 25, and concerns persist that Russia will meddle in the voting and escalate the crisis.

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

Elsewhere in metals trading, copper for July delivery inched up 0.36%, or 1.1 cents, to trade at $3.134 a pound as investors digested global manufacturing data.

A preliminary reading of China’s HSBC manufacturing index rose to a five-month high of 49.7 this month, up from a final reading 48.1 in April. The Asian nation is the world’s largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption last year.

In the euro zone, data showed that manufacturing activity in the single currency bloc expanded at the slowest rate in six months in May.

The euro zone flash manufacturing purchasing managers’ index slid to 52.5 this month, from 53.4 in April, Survey compiler Markit said, compared to expectations of 53.2.

Germany’s manufacturing PMI slid to a six-month low of 52.9 in May from 54.1 in April, while France’s manufacturing PMI inched down to a three-month low of 49.3 from 51.2 in April.

Europe as a region is third in global demand for the industrial metal. Copper traders often use manufacturing numbers as indicators for future demand growth.

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