- Gold prices held on to sharp losses on Thursday, after data showed that manufacturing activity in the U.S. expanded at a faster rate than expected in April.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for June delivery fell to a daily low of $1,277.40 a troy ounce, the weakest level since April 24.

Gold last traded at $1,280.30 an ounce during U.S. morning hours, down 1.2%, or $15.60. Futures declined 0.03% or 40 cents an ounce on Wednesday to settle at $1,295.90.

Gold prices were likely to find support at $1,268.40 a troy ounce, the low from April 24 and resistance at $1,306.60, the high from April 28.

Meanwhile, silver for July delivery lost 1.12%, or 21.4 cents, to trade at $18.96 a troy ounce, the lowest since December 31. Silver ended Wednesday’s session down 1.86%, or 36.4 cents, to settle at $19.17 an ounce.

The Institute for Supply Management said its index of purchasing managers rose to 54.9 last month from a reading of 53.7 in March. Analysts had expected the manufacturing PMI to increase to 54.3 in April.

The upbeat data came after the Commerce Department reported that U.S. personal spending rose 0.9% in March, up from an upwardly revised 0.5% the previous month and ahead of expectations of 0.6%.

Consumer spending is the single biggest source of U.S. economic growth, accounting for as much as two-thirds of economic activity.

The report also showed personal income rose 0.5%, beating expectations for a 0.4% increase and after gaining 0.4% in February.

At the same time, the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits increased by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 344,000 last week. Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall by 11,000 to 319,000.

The Federal Reserve decided to taper its monthly bond-buying program by $10 billion for the fourth consecutive meeting on Wednesday, in a widely expected decision.

The U.S. central bank acknowledged that first quarter growth was far weaker than expected, but added that momentum had started to pick up in recent weeks.

Investors now looked ahead to Friday’s closely-watched U.S. jobs report for April, which was expected to indicate that the recovery in the labor market is continuing.

Elsewhere in metals trading, copper for July delivery shed 0.18%, or 0.5 cents, to trade at $3.023 a pound.

Data released earlier showed that China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index inched up to 50.4 in April, just below an expectation of 50.5, and higher than the 50.3 reported last month.

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

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