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Gold retreats ahead of preliminary Iranian deal, U.S. jobs report

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Shutterstock photo - -- Gold futures retreated on Thursday, one day after surging to a monthly high as metal traders looked to lock into profits ahead of a long weekend for the Easter holiday.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for June delivery plunged more than $11 an ounce to $1,196.90, before inching up to 1,199.70 in U.S. afternoon trading. On Wednesday, gold prices soared more than $24 an ounce or 2.05% to $1,207.50, following the release of soft non-farming payroll figures.

Commodity markets will be closed on Friday for the Easter holiday when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its monthly U.S. jobs report. There have only been a handful of instances over the last two decades when the markets have remained closed for Good Friday on the same day when the report has been released.

Last month, the U.S. Private Sector added 189,000 jobs for the month of March far below economists' forecasts of the addition of 225,000, according to the ADP National Employment Report. The subdued private sector job growth marked the lowest increase in seasonally-adjusted private employment nationwide since January, 2014.

A panel of economists predicted that the workforce added 248,000 non-farm jobs last month, down slightly from February's increase of 295,000. The labor force has added at least 200,000 jobs per month for every month over the last year. Economists expect that unemployment will remain fairly constant at a level of 5.5%.

The strong figures last month raised the possibility that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates sooner than expected. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen has said that the Fed will take a data-driven approach in regards to the timing of a potential rate hike. The Fed, she added, would like to see improvements in wage and GDP growth, as well as an indication that inflation is moving toward its target goal of 2% before it begins to raise rates.

On Mar. 6, gold plummeted by more than $20 an ounce hours after the release of the jobs report. Gold struggles to compete against high yield bearing assets in periods of raising interest rates.

Gold futures edged up several dollars an ounce on Thursday after the Associated Press reported Iran and Western powers agreed on the outlines of an understanding that would pave the way for a final round of negotiations regarding the Iranian Nuclear Program. Metal traders awaited a joint news conference between Iran and leaders from the European Union on Thursday evening in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Gold is viewed as a safe haven for investors in periods of global instability.

The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the strength of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, was down 0.80% in U.S. afternoon trading at 97.75, ahead of the press conference.

Elsewhere, silver for May delivery plunged 0.381 or 2.26% to trade at $16.67 a troy ounce, while copper for May delivery fell 0.019 or 0.68%, to trade at $2.730 a pound. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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