Gold swung between advances and declines before a report that is forecast to show the U.S. labor market improved, damping expectations for further stimulus and boosting the dollar. Silver fell.
Bullion for immediate delivery traded at $1,579.40 an ounce at 3:20 p.m. in Singapore from $1,578.97 yesterday. The metal is up 0.2 percent this week following a four-week slump. Silver slid 0.2 percent to $28.8625 an ounce, also retreating for a second day. The dollar strengthened against a six-currency basket before the report that may show U.S. employers added more jobs in February.
Gold dropped for a fifth month in February, the longest run of declines since 1997, amid speculation the Federal Reserve may rein in stimulus as the recovery gains traction. Assets in exchange-traded products sank to 2,486.16 metric tons yesterday, the lowest level since September.
“The really important number is going to be the non-farm payroll tonight, which may drag gold prices lower,” Steven Dooley, Melbourne-based head of research at brokerage Forex Capital Trading Pty Ltd., said by phone today. “People are moving away from gold into other assets. We are very cautious.”
Gold for April delivery rose 0.2 percent to $1,577.80 an ounce on the Comex in New York after earlier gaining 0.3 percent. Economists in a Bloomberg survey estimate that the Labor Department will say today that payrolls expanded by 165,000 in February after a 157,000 gain the prior month, while the jobless rate probably held at 7.9 percent.
The same economic optimism that depressed gold is boosting platinum and palladium, which are used in the auto and other industries, Dooley said. Platinum gained 0.4 percent to $1,601.50 an ounce, and was set for a 1.8 percent increase this week, snapping three weeks of declines. Palladium was little changed at $758.05 an ounce.