Metals Stocks: Gold inches lower as markets watch for Friday’s jobs report

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Gold futures edged lower on Friday, as traders awaited monthly domestic employment data, which may influence haven demand for the precious metal.

Gold for February delivery GCG20, -0.74%  on Comex fell $1.80, or 0.1%, at $1,481.30 an ounce, after a 0.2% gain on Thursday. March silver SIH20, -0.64%  gave up 4 cents, or 0.2%, at $17.025 an ounce, following a 0.9% gain the prior session.

For the week, gold prices are set for a gain of 0.6%, while silver is on track for a weekly decline of 0.4%.

Read: ‘Don’t fall asleep on gold’ as it gears up for another run, says prominent analyst

Economists polled by MarketWatch predict the U.S. created 180,000 new jobs last month, rebounding from a lackluster 128,000 gain in October, as employees return to work following a major General Motors Co. GM, -0.31%  strike.

The jobless rate is likely to cling to 3.6%, just a tick above the post 2008 recession low, while economists predict a 0.3% increase in hourly pay in November, leaving the increase over the past year at a decent if unspectacular 3%.

See MarketWatch’s Economic Calendar.

Bullion and other precious metals, however, have been mostly influenced by the latest in trade developments, with remarks from President Donald Trump earlier in the week raising the possibility that a trade resolution to end a nearly yearlong tariff dispute between China and the U.S. could be kicked into next year.

On Friday, China’s State Council began the process of exempting some soybeans and pork imported from the U.S. from punitive tariffs, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said, helping to reignite optimism around a partial deal coming to fruition.

“Gold will continue to get knocked around by the trade headline. So, trading has become a function of the fastest trigger in town and wholly driven by trade talk headline risk,” wrote Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at AxiTrader, in a daily research note.

“But economic data counts and the focus has shifted to tonight’s [Friday’s jobs report],” he said.