- Gold prices traded higher on Thursday though they trimmed earlier gains after better-than-expected reports on U.S. retail sales and jobless claims reminded investors the Federal Reserve remains on track to continue tapering its monthly bond-buying program.

Currently set at $65 billion in Treasury and mortgage debt purchases a month, the Fed''s bond-buying program suppresses interest rates to spur recovery, which weakens the dollar and bolsters gold''s appeal as a hedge.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery traded at $1,372.30 a troy ounce during U.S. trading, up 0.13%, up from a session low of $1,365.00 and off a high of $1,375.40.

The April contract settled up 1.77% at $1,370.50 on Wednesday.

Futures were likely to find support at $1,328.20 a troy ounce, Monday''s low, and resistance at $1,393.80, the high from Sept. 8.

The Commerce Department reported earlier that U.S. retail sales rose 0.3% in February, ending two months of declines and better than market expectations for a 0.2% increase.

Core retail sales, which exclude automobile sales, also rose 0.3% last month, beating expectations for a 0.2% rise.

Separately, the Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing new claims for unemployment benefits in the U.S. fell by 9,000 to a three-month low of 315,000 last week.

Analysts had expected initial jobless claims to rise by 6,000 last week.

The number trimmed gold''s gains, as Federal Reserve officials have said they''ll pay close attention to data when deciding on the pace at which the U.S. central bank scale back monthly asset purchases.

Gold prices didn''t flop, however, as a gradual tapering of stimulus programs for this year has already been priced into trading.

Meanwhile, silver for May delivery was down 0.80% at US$21.188 a troy ounce, while copper futures for May delivery were down 1.47% at US$2.919 a pound.

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