Silver prices give up gains ahead of U.S. economic data

New York (Jan 14)  Silver prices turned lower on Tuesday, as traders booked profits from a recent rally which took prices to a five-week high earlier in the session.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, silver for March delivery shed 0.45% to trade at USD20.29 a troy ounce during European morning trade. Comex silver prices rose to a session high of USD20.47 a troy ounce earlier, the strongest level since December 11.

The March contract ended Monday’s session up 0.8% to settle at USD20.38 a troy ounce. Futures were likely to find support at USD19.54 a troy ounce, the low from January 10 and resistance at USD20.76, the high from November 18.

Meanwhile, gold futures for February delivery traded at USD1,248.70 a troy ounce, down 0.2%.

Investors looked ahead to key U.S. economic data later in the day for further indications on the future course of U.S. monetary policy. The U.S. is set to release data on retail sales for December as well as reports on import prices and business inventories later Tuesday.

Market players have closely been looking out for U.S. data reports recently to gauge if they will strengthen or weaken the case for the Federal Reserve to scale back stimulus.

Data on Friday showed that the U.S. economy added just 74,000 jobs in December, the smallest increase since January 2011 and well below expectations for 196,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 6.7% last month from 7% in November, but this was due in part to people dropping out of the labor force. The labor participation rate fell to an almost 35-year low of 62.8%.

Despite the dismal data, Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart voiced his support of further tapering to the one already announced in December on Monday. The central bank is scheduled to meet January 28-29 to review the economy and assess policy.

Elsewhere on the Comex, copper futures for March delivery declined 0.02% to trade at USD3.347 a pound.