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.

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