WASHINGTON (Alliance News) - Gold futures ended higher on Thursday, on its safe haven appeal with investors keeping away from the riskier equity assets, tracking declining US and European markets, even as the situation in Ukraine worsened.
US stocks continued to trend lower on escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia, with the S&P 500 falling back from 2,000 and likely to end a three-day gain, despite the encouraging news on the economy,
Most European markets ended lower after some disappointing eurozone economic confidence data, with Germany's unemployment rising unexpectedly in August. Most Asian markets also ended lower today.
Nevertheless, gains of the the precious metal were somewhat limited with the dollar trending higher against a basket of some select currencies, after some upbeat data showed the US economy to have expanded faster during the second quarter than previously estimated.
Revised figures from the US Commerce Department showed Gross Domestic Product, a broad measure of economic activity, rose by 4.2% in the April-to-June period. Economists expected second quarter GDP growth to hold steady with the estimate of 4.0% released last month.
Meanwhile, the turmoil in Ukraine continued to be the center of focus after President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday said Russian troops had been sent into his country and called for an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council and the European Council to discuss the issue.
Gold for December delivery, the most actively traded contract, gained USD7.00 or 0.5% to close at USD1,290.40 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange on Thursday.
Gold for December delivery scaled an intraday high of USD1,297.60 and a low of USD1,283.00 an ounce.
On Wednesday, gold futures ended lower with little or no economic cues for direction.
Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, remained unchanged at 795.60 on Thursday from its previous close of 797.09 tons.
The dollar index, which tracks the US unit against six major currencies, traded at 82.52 on Wednesday, up from its previous close of 82.47 late Wednesday in North American trade. The dollar scaled a high of 82.59 intraday and a low of 82.62.
The euro trended lower against the dollar at USD1.3185 on Thursday, as compared to its previous close of USD1.3193 late Wednesday in North American trade. The euro scaled a high of USD1.3220 intraday and a low of USD1.3160. In economic news from the US, pending home sales in rebounded in July due to some low interest rates and confidence in the US economic recovery, according to the National Association of Realtors. NAR's Pending Home Sales Index climbed 3.3% to 105.9 in July from 102.5 in June. Despite having now risen in four of the last five months, pending home sales remain 2.3% below July 2013.
Meanwhile, the number of people filing claims for first-time unemployment benefits in the US remained below the key 300,000 mark for a second consecutive week, a good sign for job growth.
A US Department of Labor report showed initial jobless claims, a key gauge of layoff activity, came in at 298,000 for the week ended August 22. This was down 1,000 compared to the previous week's revised total of 299,000. Economists expected initial claims at 300,000, compared to the 298,000 originally reported for the previous week.
From Europe, eurozone economic confidence weakened more-than-expected in August to its lowest level in eight months, underscoring rising pessimism amid heightened geopolitical tensions and stagnating economic recovery. The index dropped to 100.6 in August, the lowest score since December, from 102.1 in July, the European Commission said Thursday.
Meanwhile, Germany's inflation in August held steady at its lowest level in four-and-a-half years, preliminary figures from the statistical office Destatis showed Thursday. The consumer price index rose 0.8% year-on-year, same as in July and in line with economists' expectations. The figure was the lowest since February 2010.