Gold prices fell to six-week lows on Friday, hovering below the psychologically important $1,200 mark as the strength of the U.S. dollar and growing expectations for a U.S. rate hike next week continued to weigh on the precious metal.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery were down 0.61% at $1,195.65, the lowest since January 31.
The April contract ended Thursday’s session 0.51% lower at $1,203.20 an ounce.
Futures were likely to find support at $1,187.10, the low of January 30 and resistance at $1,212.20, Wednesday’s high.
The greenback remained broadly supported after U.S. payroll processor ADP reported on Wednesday that the private sector added 298,000 jobs in February, well above forecasts for an increase of 190,000. It was the largest increase in private sector hiring since March 2006.
Investors were looking ahead to Friday’s government employment report for February, where a strong reading would cement expectations for a rate hike from the Fed next week.
Markets seemed to shrug off a report by the U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday showing that initial jobless claims increased by 20,000 to 243,000 last week, compared to expectations for a 12,000 rise.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was steady at 101.94, not far from Thursday’s one-week high of 102.25.
A strong U.S. dollar usually weighs on Gold, as it dampens the metal’s appeal as an alternative asset and makes dollar-priced commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies.
Elsewhere in metals trading, silver futures for May delivery dropped 0.81% to $16.877 a troy ounce, while copper futures for May delivery added 0.12% to $2.583 a pound.