Futures & Commodities

Gold inches up on weak jobs data, easing Mideast tensions limit gains

An employee arranges one kilogram gold bars at the Perth Mint Refinery in Perth, Australia, on Aug. 9, 2018.
Carla Gottgens | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Gold inched up on Friday, helped by disappointing U.S. nonfarm payrolls data, but abating tensions in the Middle East that bolstered appetite for risk assets kept the bullion's gains in check.

Data from the U.S. Labor Department showed job growth slowed more than expected in December.

Spot gold was up 0.44% at $1,559.11 per ounce. U.S. gold futures were up 0.34% at $1,559.5 per ounce.

"Ahead of the weekend, people are not really selling gold here but there's not much buying pressure either ... They are just waiting to see what happens with gold and in the Middle East before deciding on the next move," said Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst with Forex.com.

Gold prices have so far fallen nearly 4% from a near seven-year high of $1,610.90 hit on Wednesday as tensions about a wider conflict in the Middle East eased. World stocks also set new record highs, driven by the thaw in U.S.-Iran tensions. The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a resolution to stop U.S. President Donald Trump from further military action against Iran.

"Everybody who wanted to be long is pretty much long at this point and it's going to take a change in the fundamental situation to convince traders to take on bigger positions," said Ryan McKay, a commodity strategist at TD Securities.

Adding pressure on the safe-haven asset was a firmer dollar which was set to post its best week in two months. Indicative of sentiment, holdings of the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust , fell for the second straight session on Thursday.

The $1,555 level is pivotal, Razaqzada said, adding, "if we close below $1,555 today then we should see some further weakness next week, possibly towards $1,515. But if we go above $1,555 and hold there, that would probably reinstate the short-term bullish buyers."

Elsewhere, palladium was up 0.5% at $2,117.32 per ounce, having hit a record peak of $2,149.50 in the previous session on supply constraints. The metal was still on track for its biggest weekly rise since mid-June, up nearly 7% so far.

Silver was up 1.1% at $18.09 per ounce. Platinum rose 1.1% to $977.04 per ounce.