Investing.com - Gold prices turned modestly higher on Thursday, following the release of unexpectedly weak U.S. retail sales figures for January and separate report showing that initial jobless claims rose last week.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery held in a range between USD1,286.30 a troy ounce and USD1,297.40 an ounce.
Gold prices last traded at USD1,296.40 an ounce during U.S. morning hours, up 0.1%.
Gold futures rallied to USD1,296.40 an ounce on Wednesday, the most since November 8, before trimming gains to settle at USD1,295.00, up 0.4%.
Prices were likely to find support at USD1,264.70 a troy ounce, the low from February 10 and resistance at USD1,313.30, the high from November 8.
Meanwhile, silver for March delivery declined 0.3% to trade at USD20.28 a troy ounce. The March contract settled 0.93% higher on Wednesday to end at USD20.34 an ounce.
Gold prices pared losses after the U.S. Commerce Department said that retail sales fell by a seasonally adjusted 0.4% last month, disappointing expectations for a 0.3% increase. Retail sales for December were revised down to a 0.1% decline from a previously reported increase of 0.2%.
Rising retail sales over time correlate with stronger economic growth, while weaker sales signal a declining economy.
Core retail sales, which exclude automobile sales, were unchanged last month, compared to forecasts for a 0.1% increase. Core sales in December were revised down to a gain of 0.3% from a previously reported increase of 0.7%.
Core sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of the government''s gross domestic product report. Consumer spending accounts for as much as 70% of U.S. economic growth.
A separate report showed that the number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week rose unexpectedly, underlining concerns over the strength of the labor market.
The U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending February 8 rose by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 339,000 from the previous week’s total of 331,000.
Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall by 1,000 to 330,000 last week.
The disappointing data stirred speculation the Federal Reserve will take a gradual approach to tapering its bond-buying stimulus this year. The Fed tapered its monthly asset purchase program by another USD10 billion to USD65 billion a month at its last policy meeting.
Elsewhere on the Comex, copper futures for March delivery lost 1% to trade at USD3.223 a pound.