NEW YORK ( TheStreet ) -- Gold prices ended Friday with a thud after the U.S. reported a positive January jobs report. Gold for February delivery closed down $19 to $1,740.30 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange and were continuing their declines in after hours trading. The gold price has traded as high as $1,765.90 and as low as $1,735.50, while the spot gold price was sinking $30, according to Kitco's gold index. Silver prices lost 42 cents at $33.74 an ounce. The U.S. dollar index was slightly higher at $78.98.
The dollar strengthened as the outlook for the U.S. economy brightened and it was also given a lift by a weaker euro as rumors started to swirl that Greece's prime minister might resign as the country is trying to secure its second bailout. The stronger currency weighed slightly on gold. In addition, the good reading might ease pressure on the Federal Reserve to try to pump more money into the system through another round of quantitative easing, or QE. Although Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, reiterated his commitment to low rates until the end of 2014 Thursday at a House Budget Committee in Washington, the better job data might prevent additional monetary easing, which would have been good for gold. Oliver Pursche, co-portfolio manager of the GMG Defensive Beta Fund, didn't think that the jobs number had a meaningful impact on precious metals. It was a "non mover," he said attributing the price decline to profit taking as investors opted for stocks. "The gold story right now is watching some of the global inflation numbers, the better-than-expected strength out of China and the physical demand as a whole," he said. Technically, Pursche said gold still has more room to go. "It can probably still go up a couple of percentage points," he said. David Morgan, founder of Silver-Investor.com, says "Fridays are the squaring of books anyway. A lot of the professional traders don't carry any positions over the weekend." Morgan says gold has a wide range of $1,650-$1,750 and thinks that gold could slide below the $1,700 level. In the meantime, resurfacing Asian demand is helping to support prices. Nigel Moffatt, treasurer and manager at the Perth Mint Depository, noted no real change in demand from China yet as the country returned this week from a week-long holiday, but said Indian demand is starting to improve. "India has started to take some metal in," he said. The country lowered the amount of money banks have to keep in their reserves and officials from the Reserve Bank of India indicated they would cut interest rates once inflation slowed, which is still more than 9%.
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