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Gold prices steady ahead of payrolls report, copper boosted by China Gold prices moved little on Friday, steadying near three-week highs as markets awaited more cues on U.S. monetary policy from nonfarm payrolls data due later in the day, while copper prices rose on positive Chinese factory data. The yellow metal had a strong run-up this week as a string of weak U.S. economic readings spurred bets that the Federal Reserve will keep rates on hold in September, which in turn dented the dollar. But the greenback rebounded on Thursday after data showed personal consumption expenditures- the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge- remained sticky in July, while personal spending grew more than expected. This saw gold consolidate some weekly gains. Spot gold steadied at $1,940.14 an ounce, while gold futures expiring in December were flat at $1,966.55 an ounce by 00:59 ET (04:59 GMT). Both instruments were still trading up between 1% and 3% for the week. Nonfarm payrolls keep markets on edge Focus is now squarely on nonfarm payrolls data for August, due later in the day. While the reading is expected to have weakened from the prior month, markets still remained on edge over any potential upside, given that payrolls have consistently beaten expectations so far this year. Any signs of strength in the labor market, coupled with sticky inflation, gives the Fed more headroom and impetus to keep interest rates higher. While the central bank may not hike rates in September, it is still expected to keep interest rates at over 20-year highs for longer. Rising rates had battered gold through the past year as the opportunity cost of investing in non-yielding assets increased. The yellow metal’s near-term prospects are also dimmed by rates likely remaining higher for longer. Stronger-than-expected eurozone inflation data also pointed to higher rates in other major economies. But gold may still see some strength this year if global economic conditions worsen amid high rates. Recent U.S. GDP data showed that the world’s largest economy was now cooling, despite defying a recession in the first half of the year. Copper boosted by China PMI, stimulus Among industrial metals, copper prices rose on Friday, tracking a private survey that showed China’s manufacturing sector unexpectedly grew in August. The reading somewhat complemented government data from Thursday which showed that China’s manufacturing sector was edging towards expansion territory, although the official reading still showed contraction in the sector. Still, the private survey, coupled with more stimulus measures from Beijing, helped improve sentiment towards the world’s largest copper importer. China announced looser mortgage requirements for its property sector, and also began trimming some deposit and reserve rates to increase local liquidity. Copper futures rose 0.5% to $3.8525 a pound, and were set to add 2.4% this week.

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