- Gold prices posted hefty gains on Friday on reports that physical demand is picking up, while uncertainty over the fate of monetary stimulus programs in the U.S. bolstered the precious metal's safe haven appeal.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for December delivery traded at USD1,378.40 during U.S. afternoon hours, up 1.29%.
Gold prices hit a session low of USD1,357.10 a troy ounce and high of USD1,379.10 a troy ounce.
The December contract settled up 2.06% at USD1,360.90 a troy ounce on Thursday.
Gold futures were likely to find support at USD1,315.40 a troy ounce, Wednesday's low, and resistance at USD1,391.35, the high from June 17.
Reports that physical demand for gold is on the rise in Asia bolstered prices on Friday amid technical buying.
Elsewhere a mixed bag of U.S. economic indicators began to fuel sentiments that the U.S. economy is recovery but at a sluggish clip, and an eventual Federal Reserve decision to begin tapering monetary stimulus measures will take place so gradually that gold will still enjoy monetary support for the long term.
Monetary stimulus programs such as the Fed's USD85 billion in monthly asset purchases tend to weaken the dollar by driving down long-term interest rates, which makes gold an attractive venue as long as such tools remain in place even if at a lesser amount.
Gold and the dollar tend to trade inversely from one another.
The Commerce Department reported earlier that U.S. building permits rose 2.7% to 943,000 units in July, just shy of expectations for a 2.9% increase to 945,000 units although June's figure was revised up to 918,000 units from 911,000.
The government added that housing starts rose 5.9% to 896,000 units in July, missing expectations for a 8.3% increase to 900,000 units. Still, June's figure was revised up to 846,000 units from 836,000.
Elsewhere, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary consumer sentiment index fell to 80.0 in August from 85.1 in July. Analysts were expecting the index to rise to 85.5 this month.
Not all U.S. data missed expectations.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a preliminary report that nonfarm productivity rose 0.9% in the second quarter, beating expectations for a 0.6% gain after a 1.7% decline in the previous quarter.
Also on the Comex, silver for September delivery was up 1.57% at USD23.295 a troy ounce, while copper for September delivery was up 0.82% and trading at USD3.365 a pound.
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