- Gold eased in Asia on Friday with demand prospects from China and India in focus.

A pickup in Chinese manufacturing in May - though still below expansion territory - and a new government in India may bode well for demand from the world''s top two gold importers.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for June delivery traded at $1,294.30, down 0.05%, after hitting an overnight session low of $1,290.20 and off a high of $1,303.90.

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.

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.

Silver for July delivery was down 0.06% at $19.508 a troy ounce. Copper futures for July delivery were flat at at $3.139 a pound.

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