Gold prices remained unchanged during morning trading hours in Asia after U.S. inflation remain lower than Federal Reserve''s 2% target.

Lower U.S. inflation could raise interest in gold but it could also prompt Federal Reserve to change the pace of the rollback of its bond-buying program.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for February delivery traded at USD1,241.90 a troy ounce during Asian trading, down 0.02%, up from Thursday’s low of USD1,241.60 and off a high of 1,242.90.

The February contract settled down 0.57% at USD1,242.10 on Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported earlier that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending Jan. 11 declined by 2,000 to 326,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 328,000. Analysts had expected U.S. jobless claims to hold steady last week.

A separate report showed that the U.S. consumer price index rose by 0.3% in December, in line with forecasts after holding flat in November.

Core consumer prices, which are stripped of volatile food and energy costs, inched up 0.1% last month, also meeting estimates. Core consumer prices rose 0.2% in November.

Medical care commodities, which include prescription drugs, contracted by 0.8%, the most since 1967, which helped remind markets that even as the Federal Reserve scales back its USD75 billion bond-buying program this year, it will do so gradually, while monetary tightening remains far off on the horizon.

Fed bond purchases aim to spur recovery by suppressing long-term interest rates, thus keeping the dollar soft as long as they remain in effect and making gold an attractive hedge.

The Fed''s current bond-buying program began in September of 2012 at USD85 billion in Treasury holdings and mortgage debt a month, and is the third such program since the 2008 financial crisis.

Meanwhile, silver for March delivery was up 0.02% and trading at USD20.103 a troy ounce, while copper futures for March delivery were down 0.01% and trading at USD3.341 a pou

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