Gold futures were weaker Friday as the dollar rallied on the back of strong economic data.

Contracts for April delivery of bullion were losing $1.50 at $652.90 an ounce on the Comex division of the Nymex. The Powershares DB Gold ( DGL) exchange-traded fund, which tracks futures prices, was lower by 0.1% recently.

The bullion ETFs, streetTracks Gold Shares ( GLD) and iShares Comex Gold Trust ( IAU), were barely changed in recent action.

Relatively robust durable goods orders and better-than-expected new home sales for December displayed more evidence of a far-from-weak economy, helping stimulate buying interest in the greenback.

"It appears likely durable goods will be strong for the month of January, as well," says Randy Diamond, an analyst at Miller Tabak in New York, in a research brief. "The sentiment is that the economy is improving."

One dollar would recently buy 121.49 yen, up from 121.15 late Thursday. One euro would purchase $1.29, down from $1.2938 previously. Prices for gold tend to move in the opposite direction to the value of the U.S. currency.

Other fair economic news added to the picture. The Weekly Leading Index grew 4.5% last week vs. a 4.4% increase in the prior period, according to the Manhattan-based Economic Cycle Research Institute. That marks the 14th consecutive uptick in the indicator, and the trend continues to be one of acceleration. Such readings auger for a robust economy in the months to come and likely a sturdier dollar than some gold watchers want to see.

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