Gold Prices Fall to 10-Month Low

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Gold prices were sliding for a third-consecutive session on Thursday as the yellow metal dipped to a 10-month low on weak technical support.

Gold for April delivery at the COMEX division of the CME was down $6.10 to $1,547.40 an ounce. The gold price traded as high as $1,559.30 and as low as $1,539.40 an ounce, while the spot price was off $8.20, according to Kitco's gold index.

"The bears definitely have good downside, near-term technical momentum, which does suggest a path of least resistance for prices to remain sideways to lower," said Jim Wyckoff, senior metals strategist at Kitco.com, in an interview.

Wyckoff said gold has major support at the level of $1,500 an ounce, and said that if prices breach that lower bound it would call into question the 12-year uptrend the yellow metal has ridden.

Silver prices for May delivery were losing 7 cents to $26.73 an ounce, while the U.S. dollar index was jumping 0.35% to $83.05.

The Bank of Japan, led by new Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda, announced on Thursday it would implement $520 billion in government bond purchases per year. The announcement failed to meaningfully lift gold.

"It's an incredibly dramatic step the BOJ has taken; the amount of quantitative easing they're engaging in is roughly 10% of GDP for that country, and it's a big economy," Nick Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx, said in an interview. "What it's signaling is they're very serious about trying to bring the country out of its 20-years' worth of deflation and very slow economic growth."

Meanwhile, the Bank of England and European Central Bank stayed pat on monetary policy as neither central bank on Thursday announced any changes to interest rates or easing.

The Labor Department reported that unemployment claims rose 385,000 for the week ended March 30, up from 357,000 the previous week. The four-week moving average also rose, up 11,250 week over week. The soft labor data didn't offer gold prices a reprieve, despite that fact that the Federal Reserve is committed to keeping down the short-term federal funds rate for as long as the unemployment rate remains elevated above 6.5%.

"I think the underlying employment situation might not be as rosy as these generally improving economic numbers that we have had," said Kent Croft, portfolio manager of Croft Value Fund.

Gold investors have remained focused on the health of the labor market as a gauge for when the Fed may begin to scale back its current $85 billion purchases a month in mortgage-backed securities and longer-term Treasuries. Should the labor market, along with many other economic indicators, show significant improvement over the long term, the Fed would likely cut down on its purchases. These purchases have propped up gold prices on inflation fears, and many analysts have said current QE has contributed to the recent rally in U.S. equities.

The Labor Department will release March nonfarm payrolls Friday at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

Gold mining stocks were mostly higher on Thursday, while gold ETFs were taking a beating after reports emerged that investors continue to leave gold-related exchange-traded funds. Shares of Royal Gold ( RGLD) were adding 3.1%, and shares of Gold Fields ( GFI) rose 2.8%.

Among volume leaders, Barrick Gold ( ABX) was gaining 1.4%.

Gold ETF SPDR Gold Trust ( GLD) was dropping 0.65% to $149.76 a share, while iShares Gold Trust ( IAU) was falling 0.67% to $15.04 a share.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

>Contact by Email.