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Gold prices touch session highs as U.S. weekly jobless claims rise to highest level since Oct. 2021

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(Kitco News) - Momentum in the U.S. labor market continues to slow, with the number of American workers applying for first-time unemployment benefits pushing back to its highest level since Oct. 2021.

Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department said that weekly jobless claims rose by 28,000 to 261,000, up from the previous week's revised estimate of 233,000 claims.

The latest labor market data significantly missed expectations. According to consensus forecasts, economists were expecting to see jobless claims rise at a much slower pace to 236,000.

The disappointing employment data is providing some bullish traction for gold as prices trade near session highs. August gold futures last traded at $1,969.60 an ounce, up 0.58% 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 – rose to 237,2500, an increase of 7,500 claims from the previous week's revised average.

Continuing jobless claims, representing the number of people already receiving benefits, fell to 1.757 million during the week ending May 27, dropping 37,000 from the previous week's revised level.

Some analyst note that the latest employment data is providing some support for gold as it supports the growing idea that the Federal Reserve's aggressive monetary policy tightening has come to an end.

The CME FedWatch Tool shows that markets see a more than 73% chance that the Fed will leave interest rates unchanged next week. At the same time, there is less than a 50% chance of another hike in July.

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