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Gold Futures Settle Higher Again

Gold prices moved higher on Thursday, extending gains from previous session, as the dollar weakened further amid growing optimism about an interest rate cut later this month.

Gold prices eased early on in the session, but surged higher as the day progressed, as rising concerns over global slowdown and uncertainty about the progress in U.S.-China trade negotiations prompted investors to seek the safe haven asset.

The dollar index dropped to a low of 96.92, losing 0.33%, after initially edging up from previous close of 97.22.

Gold futures for August ended up $4.80, or 0.3%, at $1,428.10 an ounce, a fresh high since mid May 2013.

On Wednesday, gold futures for August settled at $1,423.30 an ounce, gaining $12.10, or about 0.9%.

Silver futures for September ended up $0.227, at $16.198 an ounce, while Copper futures for September settled at $2.7100 per pound, down $0.0060 from previous close.

In economic news, data released by the Labor Department showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits increased in line with economist estimates in the week ended July 13th.

The report said initial jobless claims inched up to 216,000, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week's revised level of 208,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to creep up to 216,000 from the 209,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average edged down to 218,750, a decrease of 250 from the previous week's revised average of 219,000.

A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia showed its reading on regional manufacturing activity jumped much more than expected in the month of July.

The Philly Fed said its diffusion index for current general activity surged up to 21.8 in July after tumbling to 0.3 in June, with a positive reading indicating growth in regional manufacturing Activity. Economists had expected the index to rise to 5.0.

The Conference Board's report showed an unexpected decrease by its index of leading U.S. economic indicators in the month of June.

The Conference Board said its leading economic index fell by 0.3% in June after coming in unchanged in May. The drop surprised economists, who had expected the index to inch up by 0.1 percent.

"As the US economy enters its eleventh year of expansion, the longest in US history, the LEI suggests growth is likely to remain slow in the second half of the year," said Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director of Economic Research at The Conference Board.

The unexpected drop by the leading economic index reflected negative contributions from building permits, the ISM New Orders Index, and average weekly initial jobless claims.

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