Metals Stocks: Gold edges higher as traders watch for U.S. private-sector employment data

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Gold and silver on the move

Gold prices on Wednesday edged modestly higher as investors watched for data on private-sector employment in the U.S., a report that could help to set the tone for risk appetite on Wall Street after reports on domestic and global manufacturing helped to spur a flight to assets perceived as havens.

Gold for December delivery GCZ19, +0.21% on Comex gained $3.30, or 0.2%, to reach $1,492.30 an ounce, after advancing 1.1% on Tuesday. Meanwhile, December silver SIZ19, +0.28%  picked up 3 cents, or 0.2%, to $17.335 an ounce.

Automatic Data Processing Inc.’s private-sector employment report for signs of weakness in the U.S. economy after the Institute for Supply Management’s survey on manufacturing registered at 47.8, down from 49.1 in July, below the 50.2 estimated by economists polled by MarketWatch, representing the worst reading since June 2009. Any reading below 50 indicates contraction.

Also published Tuesday, the JPMorgan IHS global manufacturing index for September remained below 50, the dividing line between expansion and contraction, for a fifth straight month.

Economists polled by Econoday estimate that private-sector employment for September will come in at 152,000, which would compare with 195,000 for ADP in August. The ADP reading is set for 8:15 a.m. Eastern Time.The private-sector labor data come ahead of a closely watched Friday jobs report.

Gold prices have been on the decline as worries about global economic weakness has underpinned gains in the U.S. dollar, which has driven the ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, +0.08%, a measure of the buck against a half-dozen currencies, to hits highest level in about two years, at 99.21 as of Wednesday morning.

“Gold prices remain vulnerable following the break of the key $1,480 an ounce support level, but should see key support as we start to see a continue trend of soft US labor data points,” wrote Edward Moya, senior market analyst at brokerage Oanda, in a Wednesday note.

“The greatest safe-haven trade on earth is likely to regain its groove once we start to see further softness with US data,” he said.

Elsewhere on Comex, December copper HGZ19, -0.41%  shed a penny, or 0.2%, to $2.55 a pound. January platinum PLF20, -0.14%  shed 50 cents, or 0.1%, to $885.60 an ounce, while December palladium PAZ19, +0.56%  gained $9.80, or 0.6%, to reach $1,640.50 an ounce.