Gold Futures Settle Lower Again As Dollar Rises On Rate Hikes Bets

Gold prices drifted lower on Thursday, extending losses to a fourth straight session, as the dollar moved up amid expectations of more interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve in the coming months.

Data showing a drop in weekly jobless claims in the U.S. weighed as well on gold prices.

The dollar index advanced to 107.56, gaining nearly 1%.

Gold futures for December ended lower by $5.50 or about 0.3% at $1,771.20 an ounce, the lowest close in three weeks.

Silver futures for September ended down by $0.267 at $19.464 an ounce, while Copper futures for September settled at $3.6315 per pound, gaining $0.0480.

Data released by the Labor Department showed initial jobless claims edged down to 250,000 in the week ended August 13th, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 252,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 265,000 from the 262,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia also released a report showing regional manufacturing activity unexpectedly returned to growth in the month of August.

The Philly Fed said its diffusion index for current activity jumped to a positive 6.2 in August from a negative 12.3 in July, with a positive reading indicating growth. Economists had expected the index to rebound to a negative 5.0.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors released a report showing another significant decrease in existing home sales in the month of July.

NAR said existing home sales plunged by 5.9% to an annual rate of 4.81 million in July after tumbling by 5.5% to a revised rate of 5.11 million in June.

Economists had expected existing home sales to slump by 4.5% to a rate of 4.89 million from the 5.12 million originally reported for the previous month.

A separate report released by the Conference Board showed a continued decrease by its reading on leading U.S. economic indicators in the month of July.

The Conference Board said its leading economic index fell by 0.4 percent in July following a revised 0.7 percent decrease in June.

Economists had expected the index to decline by 0.5 percent compared to the 0.8 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.

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