- Gold prices held on to modest gains on Tuesday, after data showed that manufacturing activity in the U.S. expanded at a slower rate than expected in March.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for June delivery traded at $1,284.90 a troy ounce during U.S. morning hours, up 0.07%, or 90 cents.

Prices fell to a session low of $1,277.40 a troy ounce earlier, the weakest level since February 11. Gold last Prices lost 0.81%, or $10.50, on Monday to settle at $1,283.80 an ounce.

Gold futures were likely to find support at $1,273.70 a troy ounce, the low from February 11 and resistance at $1,299.30, the high from March 31.

Meanwhile, silver for May delivery inched up 0.35%, or 7.0 cents, to trade at $19.82 a troy ounce. Silver ended Monday’s session down 0.19%, or 3.8 cents, to settle at $19.75 an ounce.

The Institute for Supply Management said its index of purchasing managers rose to 53.7 last month from a reading of 53.2 in February. Analysts had expected the manufacturing PMI to increase to 54.0 in March.

On the index, a reading above 50.0 indicates industry expansion, below indicates contraction.

Gold and silver prices have been under heavy selling pressure in recent weeks as upbeat U.S. economic data underlined expectations that the Federal Reserve will begin to raise rates sooner than previously thought.

On Monday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that there is still room for the central bank to help the economy and reiterated that the Fed’s commitment to economic stimulus will still be needed for some time.

Elsewhere on the Comex, copper for May delivery eased up 0.25%, or 0.8 cents, to trade at $3.033 a pound as investors digested a pair of conflicting reports on China’s manufacturing sector.

Data released earlier showed that China’s final HSBC Purchasing Managers Index ticked down to an 18-month low of 48.0 in March from a final reading of 48.5 in February.

The report came after China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index inched up to 50.3 in March from 50.2 in February.

Copper remained supported amid ongoing indications that China’s government is prepared to do more to shore up the cooling economy.

The Asian nation is the world’s largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption last year.

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