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Gold Rises to Kick Off a Busy September (Update 1)

Updated from 9:47 a.m. EDT with new data and trader comments

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Gold prices were edging higher on Tuesday during a volatile morning session as traders considered a raft of events that could significantly swing the yellow metal in the month ahead.

Gold for December delivery at the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange was gaining $4.60 to $1,400.70 an ounce. The gold price traded as high as $1,404.50 and as low as $1,373.60 an ounce, while the spot price was climbing to $1,401.76.

The small change in gold prices comes ahead of a week that could deliver more clarity on the labor market recovery, the approach by the U.S. to Syria's chemical weapons use and the Federal Reserve's decision to taper its economic stimulus program.

"People are trading on news; we have Europe that's back in office now, holidays are over; you're going to see a lot more volume," Mihir Dange, options trader at Grafite Capital, said in an interview. "Everybody's going to have their own interesting take on it."

The monthly employment report for August will be released Friday morning with economists polled by Thomson Reuters expecting 180,000 nonfarm payrolls added and the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 7.4%. Gold prices have tracked closely to the monthly jobs report as the Fed has said it will gauge its decision to scale back monthly purchases of mortgage-backed securities and longer-term Treasuries on the highly anticipated economic release.

Many gold investors view the central bank's so-called quantitative easing package as an inflationary policy, which would make the yellow metal the asset hedge against such inflation.

Developments in Syria also remain a backdrop to the gold trade as a military strike could trigger a fear trade for the precious metal. Though a limited airstrike by the United States and allied forces likely has already been priced in, broader involvement in the region -- such as boots-on-the-ground engagement that incites an Iranian response or consternation from Russia and China -- could generate a spike in gold prices.

Finally, the Fed's policy-making wing, the Federal Open Market Committee, is expected to release its latest statement on Sept. 18, which could signal a shift to scale back its monetary stimulus efforts. A decision to taper likely would decrease gold prices, while the choice to delay such action would lend more support to the price.

Physical investment demand for gold rose in August, BullionVault said in its latest report that surveys clients' gold holdings across the globe. Its index rose to 53.8, up from July's 52.6. A number above 50 signals more buyers than sellers in the market.

"There's tremendous buying going on. I think at first it was the poor housing numbers and the durable goods orders that got the buyers coming back in for gold," Miguel Perez-Santalla, vice president at BullionVault, said in an interview. "Compound that with the problems in Egypt and Syria, and gold just had every reason to go higher."

Silver prices for December delivery were jumping 92 cents to $24.43 an ounce, while the U.S. dollar index was adding 0.15% to $82.40.
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