Silver futures fluctuate ahead of ECB, U.S. jobs data

 LONDON (July 5) Silver futures swung between small gains and losses on Thursday, as market players remained cautious ahead of the European Central Bank's policy meeting later in the day as well as Friday's U.S. nonfarm payrolls data.

Trade volumes were expected to remain light on Thursday, with markets in the U.S. closed for the Independence Day holiday.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, silver futures for September delivery traded at USD19.51 a troy ounce during European morning trade, up 0.1% on the day.

Comex silver prices held in a tight range between USD19.49, the daily low and a session high of USD19.83 a troy ounce.

Silver prices were likely to find support at USD18.18 a troy ounce, the low from June 28 and resistance at USD20.19, the high from June 24.

Silver traders looked ahead to Friday's highly-anticipated U.S. nonfarm payrolls data for indications of how the recovery in the U.S. labor market is progressing.

Data on Wednesday showed that the U.S. private sector added 188,000 jobs in June, more than expectations for an increase of 160,000.

Any improvement in the U.S. economy was likely to reinforce the view that the Federal Reserve will begin to taper its bond purchase program in the coming months.

Silver prices are on track to post a loss of almost 36% on the year, amid speculation the Fed will start to unwind its bond purchasing program in the coming months.

Silver futures fell to a 34-month low of USD18.18 a troy ounce on June 28.

Moves in the silver price this year have largely tracked shifting expectations as to whether the U.S. central bank would end its bond-buying program sooner-than-expected.

Market players also awaited the European Central Bank's monthly policy meeting later in the day, as concerns over political turmoil in Portugal continued to weigh.