The lower than expected jobs numbers could not help gold this Thursday. Ahead of the U.S. long weekend, gold prices ended the day session moderately lower and hit a 3 1/2-month low. Thursday morning’s U.S. employment report for June saw the key non-farm payrolls number up just 223,000. That was slightly lower than the expected rise of just above 230,000. The report was released one day early due to the U.S. Independence Day holiday on Friday. Gold popped a few dollars higher on the news, but could not push above the unchanged level. August Comex gold was last down $5.40 at $1,163.90 an ounce. '[Job numbers] were was a little bit lower than expected – what I saw happen is that it really opened the door for the possibility that the U.S. Fed would not begin rate hikes in September or as quickly as first believed,' says Gary Wagner, editor of The Gold Forecast. 'But we have to underline the fact that the numbers really weren’t that bad. It still shows there is some growth,’ says Wagner. Gold has entered a fourth month of the current range it’s been operating in. There are two ways of looking at this, says Wagner. 'Either gold is going to continue to run up and down roughly $40 to $60, or it will break - most likely downward - in the next month. Barring some sort of catastrophe economically or socially, it is hard to imagine it soaring up and above current resistance,' he explains. Wagner stresses that gold really needs to hold $1,140 an ounce if a base is expected to form for the metal.