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U.S. weekly jobless claims rises back above 200K

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(Kitco News) - The gold price is pushing closer to $1,800 an ounce as the U.S. labor market lost some near-term momentum with more workers than expected applying for first-time unemployment benefits.

Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department said that weekly jobless claims increased by 18,000 to 206,000, up from the previous week's revised estimate of 184,000 claims.

The latest labor market data significantly missed expectations. According to consensus forecasts, economists were expecting to see jobless claims around 196,000.

Disappointing labor market data is helping to support the gold prices, which is also benefiting from a weaker U.S. dollar. February gold futures last traded at $1,788.50 an ounce, up 1.36% on the day.

The four-week moving average for new claims – often viewed as a more reliable measure of the labor market since it flattens week-to-week volatility – fell to 203,750, down by 16,000 claims from the previous week.

"This is the lowest level for this average since March 7, 2020, when it was 215,250," the report said.

Continuing jobless claims, which represent the number of people already receiving benefits, were at 1.845 million during the week ending Dec. 4, falling by 154,000 from the previous week.

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“This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since March 14, 2020 when it was 1,770,000.

The health of the labor market has been a critical metric the U.S. central bank has been watching as it looks to pivot its monetary policies from its current ultra-accommodative stance. Wednesday the U.S. central bank said that it sees the potential for at least three rate hikes next year.

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