On Friday, gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for December — the most active contract — increased $13.50 to close at $1,386.50 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures jumped 64 cents to finish at $23.89.
Both precious metals finished the week on a strong note, as the latest reading on jobs kept the market guessing about the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing programs. The U.S. economy added fewer jobs than economists expected, and the unemployment rate ticked lower, largely as the result of job hunters dropping out of the labor force. The share of working-age Americans who were employed or looking for work fell to 63.2 percent last month, its lowest level since 1978, a time when fewer women were participating in the labor force.
The Department of Labor reported Friday that the country’s employers expanded their payrolls by 169,000 jobs, below the consensus estimate of 175,000 new jobs, and unemployment dropped from 7.4 percent to 7.3 percent. The total number of unemployed persons remained little changed at 11.3 million, while the number of long-term unemployed, those jobless for 27 weeks or more, was about unchanged at 4.3 million. Those individuals constitute 37.9 percent of the unemployed, and their numbers have shrunk by just 733,000 in the past 12 months.
Despite the weak employment data, the Federal Reserve could still be on pace to dial down bond purchases this month. David Song, a currency analyst at DailyFX, said in an email statement, “The dismal U.S. Non-Farm Payrolls report certainly dragged on the dollar, but the recent lull in job growth may do little to stop the Fed from tapering its asset-purchase program at the September 17-18 meeting as the central bank continues to highlight a more broad-based recovery in the world’s largest economy.”
By the end of the trading day, shares of the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD) increased 1.5 percent, while the iShares Silver Trust (NYSEARCA:SLV) jumped 2.6 percent. Gold miners (NYSEARCA:GDX) Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE:FCX) and Yamana Gold (NYSE:AUY) gained 1.4 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. Shares of Endeavour Silver (NYSE:EXK) increased 1.5 percent.
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Disclosure: Long EXK, AG, HL, PHYS