Gold higher after disappointing US jobs report

Gold jump up a mere 1% to $1,239 an ounce Friday, building on earlier gains after US nonfarm payroll numbers cast doubt on the world's largest economy, and the direction of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy.

Yesterday gold prices scored their first gain in four sessions as traders shrugged off some cheerful news on the economic front.

The US added 74,000 payrolls in December, the Commerce Department reported, fewer than what economists forecasted —200,000 new jobs during the month.

The unemployment rate, calculated in a separate survey, dropped to 6.7% from 7% a month earlier, largely a result of people leaving the workplace.

In another sign of weakness, the average working week fell by 0.1 hours to 34.4 hours, normally regarded as a bad sign for the future because employers tend to cut hours before they cut jobs.

The most actively traded gold contract, for February delivery, recently traded up $8.30, or 0.7%, at $1,237.70 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Before the report, futures had traded steady at $1,229.40 an ounce.

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