Gold markets are divided over the price direction this week and await the release of closely-watched U.S. jobs numbers on Friday to shed some light on when the Federal Reserve may cut stimulus measures, helping dictate the near-term outlook for bullion, CNBC's latest sentiment survey shows.
CNBC's latest poll of gold market sentiment showed 44 percent (8 out of 18 respondents) expect prices to gain this week, 50 percent (9 out of 18) predict price declines, giving those with a bearish view on the metal a slight edge.
Scheduled U.S. data releases culminate in the Labor Department's non-farm payroll figures for October on Friday. This week's economic indicators also include factory orders on Monday, the ISM services index on Tuesday and third-quarter gross domestic product and weekly jobless claims on Thursday. The October numbers are likely to reflect the negative impact of last month's U.S. government shutdown.
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A sub-par jobs number may suggest that the U.S. economy took a worse hit than expected due to last month's government shutdown, putting pressure on the Fed to delay stimulus cutbacks until at least early next year. Such a scenario may undermine the U.S. dollar and boost gold's allure as an alternative.
"It would be surprising if the October payroll numbers were any better than the September data, and we may very well see something a bit worse with the shutdown figures now coming into play," said Scott Carter, the chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Lear Capital. "This should reinforce the Fed's position of continued bond buying."
The Fed's increasing balance sheet coupled with U.S. national debt of over $17 trillion and the risk of further political clashes in Washington as the next round of budget negotiations loom are making "all precious metals look quite constructive," Carter said.