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Gold futures settled lower on Wednesday after data showed a smaller-than-expected increase in private sector jobs in the U.S. in the month of August.

Investors largely stayed cautious, looking ahead to the crucial non-farm payrolls data, due on Friday, for directional clues.

Friday’s jobs data might provide an insight into the Fed’s likely stance with regard to its monthly bond-buying program.

A weaker dollar limited gold’s decline. The dollar index dropped to 92.38 before recovering to 92.47, still down 0.17% from Tuesday’s close.

Gold futures for December ended down by $2.1 or about 0.1% at $1,816.00 an ounce.

Silver futures for December gained $0.215 or about 0.9% to $24.221 an ounce, while Copper futures for December settled at $4.2780 per pound, down $0.0970 or 2.2% from the previous close.

A report from payroll processor ADP showed private sector employment in the U.S. climbed by 374,000 jobs in August after rising by a downwardly revised 326,000 jobs in July. Economists had expected employment to jump by 613,000 jobs compared to the addition of 330,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

A separate report from the Institute for Supply Management showed manufacturing activity in the U.S. unexpectedly grew at a slightly faster rate in the month of August. The ISM said its manufacturing PMI inched up to 59.9 in August from 59.5 in July, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in the sector. The uptick surprised economists, who had expected the index to dip to 58.6.


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