PRECIOUS-Gold flat as data shows job market firms, inflation tame
* Core CPI up 0.1 pct in December, inflation weak * Option dealers expect prices to rise gradually near term * Platinum group metals up on imminent S.Africa strike * Coming up: U.S. housing starts Friday (Adds comment, second byline, NEW YORK dateline, updates market activities) By Frank Tang and Clara Denina NEW YORK/LONDON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Gold prices ended largely flat on Thursday after two consecutive days of losses, as data showing a strengthening U.S. labor market and improving regional manufacturing activity dampened buying interest. A small gain in the core U.S. Consumer Price Index in December also weighed down on gold's inflation-hedge appeal. Thursday's economic reports showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell for the second consecutive week last week, while Mid-Atlantic manufacturing activity accelerated in December. Investors mostly stayed on the sidelines, reflected in a narrow $12 trading range in spot gold. Traders said that gold price volatility is likely to fall further. "The dealers are selling options to capture premiums on falling volatilities, suggesting they expect gold prices to rise slowly in the near term," said COMEX gold options floor trader Jonathan Jossen. Spot gold inched up 0.1 percent to $1,241.99 an ounce by 3:11 p.m. EST (2011 GMT). U.S. gold futures for February delivery settled up $1.90 at $1,240.20 an ounce, with trading volume about 30 percent below its 250-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed. The Labor Department said the so-called core CPI, which stripped out the volatile energy and food components, rose only 0.1 percent, leaving its increase over the past 12 months at 1.7 percent, where it has now been for four consecutive months. The Fed targets 2 percent inflation, although it tracks a gauge that tends to run a bit below CPI. U.S. jobless claims also fell, suggesting a sharp step-down in job growth showed in the December nonfarm payrolls report was likely to be temporary. Markets are closely watching data to gauge whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will have enough evidence of economic recovery to continue unwinding its bond-buying stimulus over 2014. The next meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee is on Jan. 28-29. Among precious metals, silver fell 0.3 percent to $20.07 an ounce. Platinum rose 0.2 percent to $1,425.99 an ounce, while palladium edged up 0.1 percent to $740.47 an ounce. Supply worries supported platinum group metals after South Africa's Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) said its members had voted in favour of a strike over wages at world No. 3 platinum producer Lonmin and they would down tools next week. 3:11 PM EST LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold FEB 1240.20 1.90 0.2 1235.80 1244.90 97,638 US Silver MAR 20.054 -0.080 -0.4 19.970 20.250 26,742 US Plat APR 1431.50 2.90 0.2 1418.20 1437.30 6,539 US Pall MAR 743.90 -0.10 0.0 738.00 746.55 2,487 Gold 1241.99 0.63 0.1 1236.70 1244.80 Silver 20.070 -0.070 -0.3 20.000 20.240 Platinum 1425.99 2.24 0.2 1420.75 1430.75 Palladium 740.47 0.97 0.1 739.90 743.47 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 126,992 134,751 187,594 17.78 -0.31 US Silver 33,137 39,068 57,442 24.87 0.02 US Platinum 6,562 13,387 12,721 15.23 -1.72 US Palladium 2,534 3,035 5,840 16.88 0.03 (Editing by Keiron Henderson and Marguerita Choy)
- Gaza toll passes 100; Israel to counter rockets 'with all power' |
- Mexican train derails, stranding 1,300 migrants headed toward U.S.
- Ukraine says rebels will pay as missiles kill 23 soldiers |
- Texas mass murder suspect collapses in court as crime recounted
- British 'Harry Potter' actor David Legeno found dead in U.S. park