Gold futures ended sharply lower for a second straight session on Thursday, after some upbeat data from the U.S. with first-time claims for unemployment benefits pulling back to its lowest level in fifteen years for the week ended April 25. The precious metal was also impacted after the U.S Federal Reserve offered no clarity as when it intends to raise interest rates.
Gold futures shed about 0.01 percent for the week.
The Fed removed any calendar-based references from its monetary policy statement yesterday afternoon, leaving traders with little or no cues as to whether tightening will begin this summer, or anytime this year for that matter.
In some mixed economic news, weekly jobless claims for unemployment benefits in the U.S. dropped more than expected to a 15-year low, but personal income and spending fell short of expectations. Meanwhile, a report from MNI Indicators showed a substantial rebound in Chicago-area business activity in April.
Gold for June delivery, the most actively traded contract, plunged $27.60 or 2.3 percent to settle at $1,182.40 an ounce, on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange on Thursday.
Gold for June delivery scaled an intraday high of $1,207.40 and a low of $1,176.00 an ounce.
On Wednesday, gold futures dipped $3.90 or 0.3 percent to settle at $1,210.00 an ounce, on a weak dollar and ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day monetary policy meet statement.
Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, remained unchanged at 739.06 tons from its previous close of 742.35 tons.
The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against six major currencies, traded at 95.05 on Thursday, down from its previous close of 95.21 on Wednesday in late North American trade. The dollar scaled a high of 95.45 intraday and a low of 94.40.
The euro trended higher against the dollar at $1.1191 on Thursday, as compared to its previous close of $1.1130 in North American trade late Wednesday. The euro scaled a high of $1.1256 intraday and a low of $1.1073.
On the economic front, in an upbeat sign for the labor market, a Labor Department report on Thursday showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits to have pulled back to its lowest level in fifteen years for the week ended April 25. Initial jobless claims dropped to 262,000, a decrease of 34,000 from the previous week's revised level of 296,000. Economists expected jobless claims to edge down to 288,000 from the 295,000 originally reported for the previous week.
A Commerce Department report on Thursday showed a continued increase in U.S. personal spending in March, while personal income was unexpectedly flat.
Personal spending rose 0.4 percent in March following an upwardly revised 0.2 percent increase in February. Economists expected spending to climb by 0.5 percent compared to the 0.1 percent uptick originally reported for the previous month.
Personal income inched up less than a tenth of a percent in March after increasing by 0.4 percent in February. Income had been expected to rise by 0.2 percent.
Pointing to a positive start to the second quarter, a MNI Indicators report showed a substantial rebound in Chicago-area business activity in April. MNI's Chicago business barometer jumped to 52.3 in April from 46.3 in March, with a reading above 50 indicating an expansion. Economists expected the barometer to climb to a reading of 50.0.
Eurozone unemployment rate remained unchanged for a second straight month in March, at its lowest level in nearly three years, preliminary data from Eurostat showed Thursday. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 11.3 percent, unchanged from both February and January. Economists had forecast a decline in the rate to 11.2 percent.
Eurozone consumer prices remained flat in April as expected by economists after falling for four consecutive months, flash data from Eurostat showed Thursday. Consumer prices dropped 0.1 percent in March and 0.3 percent in February.
Germany's retail sales unexpectedly declined for a second straight month in March, preliminary figures from the statistical office Destatis showed Thursday. Retail sales fell a calendar-and-seasonally adjusted 2.3 percent from February, when they dropped 0.1 percent. Economists had expected a 0.5 percent gain for March. The latest decrease was the biggest in more than a year.
German unemployment declined less than expected in April, the Federal Labor Agency reported Thursday. The number of people out of work declined by seasonally adjusted 8,000 to 2.79 million in April. It was forecast to fall by 15,000.
France's consumer spending declined for the first time in five months in March and at a faster than expected pace, mainly due to a slump in energy consumption, preliminary data from the statistical office INSEE showed Thursday. Household consumption of goods dropped 0.6 percent from February, when they grew 0.2 percent, which was revised up from 0.1 percent. Economists were looking for a 0.5 percent fall.
France's producer prices continued to decline in March, figures from the statistical office INSEE showed Thursday. Producer prices for the French market fell 2.2 percent year-over-year in March, but slower than previous month's 2.6 percent decline.
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