NEW YORK/LONDON Gold rose on Thursday, tracking U.S. equities and other commodities higher, as a sharp drop in the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits helped the metal snap four straight days of declines.
Bullion could further consolidate gains after four consecutive monthly increases prior to October, analysts said. Its rally sent prices to an 11-month high last Friday, but its failure to break above $1,800 an ounce triggered technical weakness.
The metal, a traditional inflation hedge, was boosted by economic optimism after U.S. government data on Thursday showed jobless claims fell by a surprisingly large 30,000 last week to the lowest level in four and a half years.
"Gold is very much moving in line with other riskier assets, and any type of healthy economic data goes a long way to boost demand for gold and other riskier assets," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital.
Spot gold rose 0.3 percent on the day to $1,767 an ounce by 2:10 PM EDT (1810 GMT). The metal fell by more than 2 percent over the prior four trading days, its longest stretch of declines since June.
U.S. COMEX gold futures for December delivery settled up $5.50 at $1,770.60 an ounce, with trading volume about 40 percent below its 30-average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
Gold priced in euros rose for a fourth consecutive day to within 1 percent of its record high, underscoring bullion buying among Europeans as a safe haven amid economic uncertainty.
Gold rose along with the euro, which ignored Standard & Poor's downgrade on Spain's credit rating to one notch above junk. [ID:nL6E8LB5D3] Analysts said expectations of economic slowdown had already been factored into financial markets.
A Reuters polls of hundreds of economists worldwide showed that next year offers only a slight improvement for a global economy hit by recession in Europe and slowing or moribund growth in Asia and the United States.
PAUSING AFTER FOUR-MONTH RALLY
Gold was nearly flat in October, having risen by nearly 5 percent in September after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would buy $40 billion of mortgage-backed bonds monthly to prop up the economy for as long as job creation remained sluggish.
Gold has risen by 13 percent or about $215 in 2012 so far, making it one of the best-performing commodities this year, with the majority of those gains occurring in the last two months.
In other precious metals, silver edged up 0.1 percent to $33.99 an ounce.
So far in 2012, silver has been the top performing precious metal, with a gain of nearly 24 percent, compared with a 20 percent rise in runner-up platinum, a 13 percent rally in gold and a 0.3 percent loss in palladium.
Platinum rose 0.6 percent to $1,676.99 an ounce, while palladium was up 0.1 percent at $646.97 an ounce.
The price of platinum has risen by 20 percent in the space of two months after a spate of violent mining strikes in South Africa shuttered much of the country's production capacity.
A Reuters poll on Wednesday shows analysts are less optimistic about the price prospects for platinum this year and next, even with the constraints on supply. <PREC/POLL>
(Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper in London; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)