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Gold Futures Settle Lower Again As Dollar Rises

Gold prices drifted lower on Wednesday, extending losses to a fourth session, as the dollar gained against major currencies.

However, lingering concerns about U.S.-China trade disputes and the Federal Reserve's recent comments on rate hikes limited the yellow metal's losses.

The dollar index rose to 96.28, gaining about 0.25%. The index subsequently rose to 96.38.

Gold futures for April ended down $4.80, or 0.4%, at $1,314.40 an ounce.

On Tuesday, gold futures ended at $1,319.20 an ounce, recording a small loss of $0.10.

Silver futures for March ended down $0.135, at $15.701 an ounce, while Copper futures for March settled with a gain of $0.0195, at $2.8365 per pound.

In economic news, data released by the Commerce Department showed the U.S. trade deficit narrowed by much more than anticipated in the month of November.

The Commerce Department said the trade deficit narrowed to $49.3 billion in November from a revised $55.7 billion in October.

Economists had expected the deficit to narrow to $54.0 billion from the $55.5 billion originally reported for the previous month.

The Labor Department, which was expected to release its preliminary report on labor productivity and unit labor costs in the fourth quarter, said non-farm business productivity and all unit labor costs data are not available for fourth quarter and will be released in the future.

The reports are delayed due to the lapse in appropriations for some federal agencies providing source data.

Meanwhile, a report showed manufacturing sector labor productivity increased by 1.3% in the fourth quarter after climbing by 1.1% in the third quarter.

The continued increase in manufacturing sector productivity, a measure of output per hour, came as output jumped by 2.3% and hours worked rose by 1%.

The Labor Department noted revised productivity and costs data for the fourth quarter is scheduled to be released on March 7th.

U.S. President Donald Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday failed to offer fresh evidence of progress in the U.S.-China trade talks.

Trump said a new trade deal must include real structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce chronic trade deficit and protect American jobs.

On the border wall front, Trump called for bipartisanship and unity but at the same time vowed to build a controversial wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, raising the prospect of another government shutdown.

According to reports, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he will travel to Beijing next week with other U.S. officials for trade talks.

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