(By Mani) Gold's quick reaction to a higher-than-expected US jobless claims print highlighted the growing focus on labor data as a result of the Fed's quantitative easing (QE) criteria.
The number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits fell last week, though coming in higher than expected. Jobless claims declined 3,000 to 382,000 for the week ended Sept. 15 from a revised 385,000, while economists projected 375,000 applications.
The data helped gold recover from the lows just under $1760, but eventually failed to attract follow through buying. Currently, gold is trading at 1,779.30, up 9.1 cents, or 0.51 percent. Support was evident around $1760, and dips below this level were both shallow and brief.
"Gold continues to trend in a tight and frustrating range, and looking to other markets for guidance," UBS strategist Edel Tully said in a client note.
Strong ETF buying remained strong this week with 628 thousand ounces (koz) added so far, following a hefty 733koz addition last week. This also suggests that more high-net-worth individuals are attracted to the yellow metal to guard themselves against rising inflation after central banks boosted stimulus.
"Positive sentiment for gold remains very much intact, but after several failed attempts to crack resistance around the $1780 area, the market may resign itself to a brief correction before it resumes its journey higher," Tully noted.
Meanwhile, the three major central banks have announced further quantitative measures in a span of a couple weeks, while other central banks maintain an accommodative bias. This fact should ensure the yellow metal's general northbound trend.
"In the near-term though, gold's strong relationship with the euro puts it at risk of a sympathetic move lower. The XAUEUR trade therefore looks attractive at this juncture. Gold in Japanese yen may also be worth considering as the BoJ's recently announced round of easing caps the yen's gains," Tully added.
On the physical front, demand from India has been encouraging of late and based on physical flows to the country the week is so far shaping up to be the best since mid-July. Volumes aren't huge, but it's clear that demand is quick to emerge on local price pullbacks. This is a very slight improvement to this year's physical story.
Meanwhile, CME gold open interest from September 11 to 18 shows a 1.88 million ounces (moz) increase, which is likely to translate into further extension of gold spec positioning.
In the week to September 20th, gold ETF holdings posted an increase of 0.97 moz to 85.31moz. Investors extended their holdings in the following funds: SPDR fund by 514koz, iShares trust by 141koz followed by Source fund, which added 101koz.
In addition, ETFS (LSE) fund holdings were up 59koz, Julius Baer fund gained 65koz and ZKB fund rose by 33koz. Marginal additions were also recoded in GBS (LSE) and GBS (ASX) funds.