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Gold Settles Lower As Riskier Assets Rise On Trade Hopes, Jobs Data

Gold prices drifted lower on Friday as traders went for riskier assets such as equities thanks to upbeat U.S. monthly jobs data and rising optimism about a phase one U.S.-China trade deal.

The dollar's strong uptick contributed as well to the yellow metal's decline.

The dollar index rose to 97.84 and was last seen hovering around 97.70, up more than 0.3% from previous close.

Gold futures for February ended down $18.00, or about 1.2%, at $1,465.10 an ounce.

On Thursday, gold futures for February ended up $2.90, or 0.2%, at $1,483.10 an ounce.

Gold futures shed about 0.5% in the week.

Silver futures for March ended down $0.463 at $16.596 an ounce, while Copper futures for March settled at $2.7250 per pound, up $0.0620 from previous close.

In trade news, China said it would waive import tariffs for some soybeans and pork shipments from the United States.

The tariff waivers were based on applications by individual firms for U.S. soybeans and pork imports, the finance ministry said in a statement, but didn't not specify the quantities involved.

The waiver of 25% tariffs comes two weeks before a critical decision on the fate of the December 15 tariff increases.

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump said that trade talks with China were "moving right along", and that the two sides are having very major discussions".

Asked whether he will go ahead with additional tariffs in less than two weeks, Trump said, "We're not discussing that."

Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that trade talks with China are on track, but the United States is not bound to a deadline.

In economic news, the Labor Department's monthly employment report showed non-farm payroll employment surged up by 266,000 jobs in November after climbing by an upwardly revised 156,000 jobs in October.

Economists had expected an increase of about 180,000 jobs compared to the addition of 128,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

With the stronger than expected job growth, the unemployment rate edged down to 3.5% in November from 3.6% in October. The unemployment rate was expected to remain unchanged.

According to preliminary data released by the University of Michigan, U.S. consumer sentiment showed a much bigger than expected improvement in the month of December, with the index climbing to 99.2 from the final November reading of 96.8. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 97.0.

With the much bigger than expected increase, the consumer sentiment index reached its highest level since hitting 100.0 in May.

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