Gold Nears $1,700 on Mixed Economic Reports

On Thursday, gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for February delivery, the most active contract, increased $7.60 to settle at $1,690.80 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures for March rose 27 cents to close at $31.81.

Both precious metals climbed higher in the face of conflicting economic reports. Jobless claims fell 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 335,000 last week, according to the Labor Department. It was the lowest level for unemployment benefit applications in five years.

However, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s manufacturing index plunged to a negative 5.8 in January, compared to 4.6 in December. The median forecast of 58 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was 5.6, leading to the biggest miss in seven months.

In afternoon trading, the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD) increased 0.70 percent, while the iShares Silver Trust (NYSEARCA:SLV) gained 1.20 percent. However, gold miners (NYSEARCA:GDX) such as Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) and Yamana Gold (NYSE:AUY) edged slightly lower. Silver names such as First Majestic Silver (NYSE:AG) and Silver Wheaton (NYSE:SLW) increased 1.20 percent and 0.30 percent, respectively.

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Disclosure: Long EXK, AG, HL, PHYS