Thursday morning's U.S. employment report for June saw the key non-farm payrolls number at up 223,000. That was slightly lower than the expected rise of just above 230,000. The report was released one day early due to the U.S. Independence Day holiday on Friday. Gold popped a few dollars higher on the news but could not push above the unchanged level. August Comex gold was down $5.40 at $1,163.90 an ounce.
The data were "a little bit lower than expected. What I saw happen is that it really opened the door for the possibility that the U.S. Fed would not begin rate hikes in September or as quickly as first believed," said Gary Wagner, editor of The Gold Forecast. "But we have to underline the fact that the numbers really weren't that bad. It still shows there is some growth."
Gold has entered a fourth month of the current range it's been operating in. There are two ways of looking at this, said Wagner. "Either gold is going to continue to run up and down roughly $40 to $60, or it will break -- most likely downward -- in the next month. Barring some sort of catastrophe economically or socially, it is hard to imagine it soaring up and above current resistance." Wagner said gold really needs to hold $1,140 an ounce if a base is expected to form for the metal.
Despite the debt crisis in Greece and the mixed data coming out of the U.S., gold has failed to act in a traditional safe haven manner, Wagner said. "Bottom line is that gold has been acting tepid at best."
Wagner said he has noticed a basic separation between gold prices and silver prices. "We tended to see them move in tandem -- silver would historically be a percentage gainer, where it would outperform gold both on the upside and downside."
The technical chartist says his key number for silver stands between $15.05 and $15.25 an ounce. "I still think we have ways to go on the low side but we should form a base on the low fifteens."
September Comex silver was down $0.007 at $15.57 an ounce.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.