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Gold gives back gains in ‘disappointing’ drop, and it may be headed lower

It's tough to be a certain precious metal these days.

On Friday, gold jumped to its highest level since November after the release of a March jobs report that was weaker than expected, but soon gave up its gains to settle just slightly higher on the day. Safe-haven buying stemming from the U.S. missile attack on Syria lifted demand for bullion, but that eventually evaporated.

"On a technical basis, today's a disappointing day," Matt Maley, equity strategist at Miller Tabak, commented Friday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Maley explained that with their morning spike to $1,273.30, gold futures managed to rise decisively above their 200-day moving average. However, gold futures settled a bit below that mark, at $1,257.30, and slid a bit further into the equity close — a move that was consonant with an overall snapback reaction once investors determined that the jobs report didn't actually indicate a weakening economy.

The 200-day moving average has served as "tough resistance," Maley said. "The fact that it rolled back over and it's not going to hold that level by the close is disappointing."

Looking ahead, the even more important zone for gold is where its long-term downtrend comes in. "If we break above that level, it will give us a lot of momentum," Maley said.

Long term trends 'against gold'

From a fundamental perspective, gold is torn between catalysts, according to Gina Sanchez of Chantico Global.

"The long-term economic trends are against gold — it is a strengthening recovery, you do have firming labor markets, and you also have rising interest rates," she said Friday on "Power Lunch."

On the other hand, politics in the United States and around the globe have become increasingly volatile and anxiety-making, "so that's been pushing gold up while the economic trends have been pushing it down," Sanchez added.

Capital Economics noted on Friday that "heightened political risk in the Middle East" boosted both crude and gold.

However, the firm added that "the prices of both could fall back in the near term if, as seems likely, the U.S. intervention proves to be a "one-off," also citing waning central bank demand for the yellow metal as a drag on prices.

Despite the Friday afternoon slip, gold not only managed to close higher on the day, but logged its fourth straight winning week.

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Brian Sullivan

Brian Sullivan is co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F,1PM-3PM ET), one of the network's longest running programs, as well as the host of the daily investing program "Trading Nation." He is also a frequent guest on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and other NBC properties.

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