Gold ends slightly lower as US stocks turn positive

New York (Oct 2)  Gold ended modestly lower on Thursday on geopolitical concerns and as U.S. equities whipsawed.

Lingering worries that the U.S. Federal Reserve might raise interest rates sooner and more sharply than expected were pressuring gold after data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell unexpectedly last week.

The S&P 500 index turned positive after dropping about 1 percent as energy shares dropped with oil prices and after a patient was diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.

U.S. COMEX gold futures for December delivery settled 40 cents lower at $1,215.10 an ounce.

Spot gold was last up 0.1 percent at $1,215 an ounce, within reach of a nine-month low of $1,204.40 reached on Tuesday.

Also underpinning gold were pro-democracy rallies in Hong Kong. Investors worried that events in the special administrative region could embolden dissidents in mainland China, threatening growth in the world's second-largest economy.

"With the likelihood of further weakness in equity markets, coupled with the still-volatile situation in Hong Kong, we would rather not want to be short gold here, as we think the precious metal may benefit from some short-covering heading into the weekend," said Edward Meir, metals analyst at brokerage INTL FCSt

The gold market was also supported by other factors, such as a dollar drop and an assault by Islamic State insurgents into a Syrian border town.

The dollar fell against the euro as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi gave no hints of an imminent sovereign bond-buying program in a news conference.

The strength in the dollar has weighed heavily on precious metals in recent weeks, and although the rally paused on Thursday, the currency was not too far from a four-year peak.

The next market focus will be the release of U.S. September non-farm payrolls data on Friday.

Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 1.2 tonnes to 768.66 tonnes on Wednesday, the lowest level since December 2008.

Source:  CNBC