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Gold Prices Rise After Solid Economic Reports

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Gold prices were climbing Thursday, coming off early session lows after a round of U.S. economic indicators reported steady improvement in the housing and labor markets. Gold dropped 70 cents, or 0.04%, on Wednesday.

Gold for February delivery was adding $4.30 to $1,687.50 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price traded as high as $1,689.70 and as low as $1,666.40 an ounce, while the spot price was adding $8.10.

Gold prices on the Comex division slumped at the opening of the market, but have moved into positive territory in the first couple hours of trading.

"Principally today, anyway, the better economic reports that came out of the U.S. helping the dollar, pushing down gold a little bit," said Will Rhind, managing director at ETF Securities U.S. "We've come off that low as people have stepped in to buy it."

The U.S. dollar index was sliding 0.14% to $79.70, while silver prices for March delivery were tacking on 15 cents to $31.70 an ounce.

Housing starts rose in December to 954,000 on a seasonally adjusted annual rate, up from November's revised 851,000, according to the Census Bureau. The Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims for the week ended Jan. 12 decreased to 335,000, which also brought the four-week moving average down to 359,250.

The improving housing market has suggested greater health in the overall economy, which would suggest a move out of gold -- a safe-haven against inflation and economic uncertainty -- and into other assets. Employment reports have exhibited significant sway on the yellow metal as the Federal Reserve has tied much of its monetary policy to strength in the labor market. The Fed has reiterated its commitment to continue low federal funds rates and quantitative easing measures for as long as the labor situation exhibits soft improvement.

Gold has struggled to break out of its current trading range, which may be a result of major economies -- the eurozone, China, the United States -- beginning to reach some certainty in terms of expansion.
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