Investing.com - Gold futures bounced off a two-week low on Friday to end the session sharply higher, as weaker-than-forecast U.S. jobs data dampened expectations that the Federal Reserve will start to taper its bond-buying program at its next policy meeting later this month.
The central bank is scheduled to meet September 17-18 to review the economy and assess policy.
Moves in the gold price this year have largely tracked shifting expectations as to whether the U.S. central bank would end its quantitative easing program sooner-than-expected.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for December delivery rose 1.35% on Friday to settle the week at USD1,391.70 a troy ounce. The December contract settled 1.2% lower at USD1,373.00 a troy ounce on Thursday.
Gold futures were likely to find support at USD1,356.00 a troy ounce, the low from August 22 and resistance at USD1,415.00, the high from September 4.
Despite Friday’s strong gains, gold prices lost 0.25% on the week, the second consecutive weekly decline.
Futures fell to a two-week low of USD1,361.80 a troy ounce earlier on Friday, before spiking to the highest levels of the session after the Department of Labor said the U.S. economy added 169,000 jobs in August, fewer than the 180,000 forecast by economists.
The report also said that job growth in July was revised down to 104,000 from 162,000, while June’s figure was revised down to 172,000 from 188,000.
The unemployment rate ticked down to a four-and-a-half year low of 7.3% from 7.4% in July, but this was partially due to more people dropping out of the labor force.
The disappointing data saw investors reassess expectations over the timing of a pullback in the Federal Reserve’s stimulus program.
Gold traders have closely been looking out for U.S. data reports recently to gauge if they will strengthen or weaken the case for the Fed to reduce its bond purchases.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has said that the decision to begin tapering will depend on whether economic data is strong enough.
The U.S. dollar came under heavy selling pressure following the downbeat jobs report, further boosting gold prices.
The dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of six other major currencies, declined 0.6% on Friday to end the week at 82.18.
Dollar weakness usually benefits gold, as it boosts the metal's appeal as an alternative asset and makes dollar-priced commodities cheaper for holders of other currencies.
Gold prices received additional support amid ongoing concerns over a U.S. military strike against Syria.
On Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the U.S. against launching military action against the Syrian government without U.N. approval.
Gold prices surged to a three-and-a-half month high of USD1,433.50 a troy ounce on August 28 as safe-haven buying picked up amid indications the U.S. was close to taking military action against Bashar al-Assad’s government.
In the week ahead, investors will be closely watching Friday’s U.S. data on retail sales and consumer sentiment for indications on the strength of the economic recovery.
Any improvement in the U.S. economy was likely to reinforce the view that the Fed will begin to taper its bond-purchasing program in the near-term.
Elsewhere on the Comex, silver for December delivery surged 2.7% on Friday to settle the week at USD23.88 a troy ounce. On the week, silver future prices advanced 1.4%.
Meanwhile, copper for December delivery rose 0.5% on Friday to close the week at USD3.261 a pound. Prices of the red metal gained 0.7% on the week.
The industrial metal complex posted gains for the week after a series of upbeat manufacturing reports out of the U.S., China and Europe fuelled optimism over the global economy.
Manufacturing is a key driver of copper and silver demand as it is used in solar panels and electronics.