Slightly stronger than expected employment figures helped buoy the dollar against the euro Friday and pushed gold prices lower in early trading.
The Labor Department reported that 128,000 jobs were created in August -- some 3,000 more than analysts had forecast -- indicating that the economy remains healthy, despite monetary tightening by the
and historically high oil prices.
Other data released Friday, however, offered a more mixed picture of the U.S. economy. The weekly index of leading indicators showed a decline of 1.7%, in line with revised figures for the prior period.
"It's premature to conclude that the decline is over," says Lakshman Achuthan, managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, which publishes the index. "It still hasn't deteriorated to the types of reading we have in front of recessions."
The good jobs news helped boost the dollar relative to the euro, which was trading at $1.2806 compared with $1.2812 late Thursday. The dollar, however, declined slightly against the yen, buying 117.295 yen vs. 117.38.
Gold, meanwhile, was falling in midday trading, with contracts for December delivery losing $2.90 at $630.80 an ounce on the Chicago Board of Trade. Spot oil prices dipped slightly, down 59 cents at 69.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gold prices tend to move inversely with the U.S. dollar.
The exchange-traded funds that hold gold bullion,
iShares COMEX Gold Trust
streetTRACKS Gold Shares
were tracking bullion prices lower.
Among the gold miners, RBC Capital Markets slashed its price target for
to $36 from $43, following Thursday's announcement that the miner would purchase
for $8.6 billion.
Goldcorp and Glamis were both losing about 2% in early trading.
Meanwhile, CIBC World Markets cut price targets for a number of gold miners, including
( BGO) and
But at the same time it was taking a hack at the gold patch, CIBC raised its price forecasts for several silver miners, following an 11% gain in spot metal price in August. The Canadian-based financial services firm raised its targets for
Pan American Silver
Coeur d'Alene Mines
In the copper sector, workers voted Thursday to end their three-week-long strike at Chile's Escondida copper mine and are expected back on the job Saturday after inking of the contract Friday. The deal includes a 5% base pay hike as well as interest-free loans and other concessions.
Production at the facility, which normally accounts for 8% of world copper supply, is expected to reach nameplate levels within one week, says Tracy Whitehead, a London-based company spokesperson. The mine had been generating ore at 50% of capacity during the strike.
, which majority-owns the mine, were losing 0.3% at $42, while those of
( RTP), a minority stockholder, were gaining 1.4% at $204.