- Gold prices continued gains in Asia on Friday after President Barack Obama said the U.S. would assist in determining the cause of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane near the Russia-Ukraine border.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for August delivery traded at $1,322.70 a troy ounce, up 0.44%, after hitting an overnight session low of $1,298.20 and off a high of $1,324.40.

Investors were tracking news reports that a Malaysian Airlines plane crashed in Ukraine, with wire reports saying the aircraft had been shot down.

The dollar dropped as investors awaited confirmation of the plane crash and its cause, which gave gold room to rise on safe.

Malaysia Airlines confirmed it lost contact with the plane, while wire reports quoting Ukraine officials said the plane was shot down.

Mixed data took a back seat to the geopolitical concerns in Ukraine, which have tended to weaken the dollar in the recent past by stoking fears the crisis could slow U.S. recovery by pushing up oil prices and dampening commerce between U.S. companies with Russia and Europe.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that its manufacturing index improved to a more than three-year high of 23.9 this month from June’s reading of 17.8. Analysts had expected the index to dip to 16.0 in July.

The data came after the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending July 12 declined by 3,000 to 302,000 from the previous week’s total of 305,000.

Analysts had expected jobless claims to rise by 5,000 to 310,000 last week.

Separately, the U.S. Commerce Department said that the number of building permits issued last month fell by 4.2% to 963,000 units from May’s total of 991,000. Analysts expected building permits to rise by 4.2% to 1.04 million units in June.

The dollar had found support after Ms. Yellen said Tuesday that rates could rise sooner if the economic recovery continued to improve. However, the Fed chair also said that if the recovery was disappointing monetary policy would remain accommodative.

Silver for September delivery was up 0.57% at $21.255 a troy ounce. Copper futures for September delivery were flat at 3.216 a pound.

Markets on Friday will continue to track events surrounding the downed Malaysian Airlines plane.

Elsewhere, the U.S. is release preliminary data from the University of Michigan on consumer sentiment.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger