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(Kitco News) - Gold prices may try to target $1,800 an ounce next week after missing its chance to break through this week, with Chinese market participants returning from a week-long holiday.

Prices were down on the day and mixed on the week. The most-active December gold contract on the Comex division of the Nymex settled at $1,780.80 an ounce, up 0.39% on the week. December silver settled at $34.572 an ounce, down 0.01% on the week. 

On Monday, Canada is closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.

In the Kitco News Gold Survey, out of 33 participants, 23 responded this week. Of those 23 participants, 18 see prices up, while three see prices down, and two are neutral or see prices moving sideways. Market participants include bullion dealers, investment banks, futures traders, money managers and technical-chart analysts.

Gold prices fell just shy of hitting the $1,800 an ounce mark this week, as profit-taking set in following an as-expected September U.S. employment report. The U.S. Labor Department said 114,000 jobs were created in September and the unemployment rate fell to 7.8%

“An overall better-than-expected jobs report, consistent with most recent data that suggest the economy is gaining some momentum,” BMO said.

Nomura analysts called the details of the report “mixed,” but said the biggest surprise of the report was the drop in the unemployment rate, which it said happened for the “right reasons” as  both household employment and the labor participation rate increased. Last month the unemployment rate dropped because of a drop in the labor participation rate.

Also, the firm said, the “big net revisions” were positive. Negatives to the report included a drop in the manufacturing data, they said.

Dan Pavilonis, senior commodities brokers with RJO Futures, said gold was a bit whipsawed by the jobs data, but said looking toward next week, he expects that gold will rise above the $1,800 area, citing upward momentum and China’s return to the markets after this week’s holiday, which might spur additional buying.

Additionally, he said, silver looks like it can target the $36 area, based on bullish technical charts.

Pavilonis said he’s also keeping an eye on the situation in Europe, waiting to see if Spain ends up requesting a bailout. If that occurs, that means more liquidity in the markets which is bullish for gold, he said.

Frank Lesh, futures broker at FuturePath Trading, said gold overall looks like it could rise next week.

“Despite some short-term profit-taking today, (gold) will still post a higher close than last week and one of the higher closes of the year, basis December futures. We know that central banks continue to quietly accumulate gold, and economic policies in the U.S. and Europe continue to direct capital to gold as well,” he said.

Lesh also pointed out a few areas to watch next week. “The dollar weakness and euro strength remain an important part of this situation too… There is some concern that bullion has been lagging this move higher and it will be important to see physical demand improve along with investment demand,” he said.

Also worth watching next week is the situation in the Middle East. This week there were riots in Iran over currency problems and Turkey authorized military action against Syria. Ira Epstein, director of the Ira Epstein division of The Linn Group, who said he sees prices for gold rising, said the rising tensions can be price-supportive. “This is gold’s environment,” he said.

While most market watchers said they forecast higher prices for gold next week, that view isn’t universal. There are some technical analysts who said gold might be due for a setback because it hasn’t taken out the $1,800 area and could be building a temporary ceiling at that area.

Pavilonis admitted there is some resistance building there, and noted the February top comes around there too. If gold prices were to pull back, he said solid support is in the $1,750 area. “I’d be a strong buyer at that level,” he said.

Lesh concurred, noting that next week’s key levels will be $1,800 resistance and $1,750 support, which he called “the boundaries of the consolidation range.”

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By Debbie Carlson of Kitco News dcarlson@kitco.com

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