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Gold Futures Settle Notably Higher

Gold prices surged higher on Friday amid doubts the signing of the phase one U.S.-China trade agreement may not resolve certain core differences.

Gold was in demand despite the dollar exhibiting strength. The dollar index rose to 97.66 around mid morning and stayed firm since then. It was last seen moving around 97.60, up by about 0.3% from previous close.

Gold futures for February ended up $9.80, or about 0.6%, at $1,560.30 an ounce.

On Thursday, gold futures for February ended down $3.50, or about 0.2%, at $1,550.50 an ounce.

Silver futures for March ended up $0.134 at $18.073 an ounce, while Copper futures for March ended at $2.8455 per pound, down $0.0015 from previous close.

In economic news from China, data showed that growth in industrial production unexpectedly accelerated to 6.9% in December from 6.2% in November. The rate was expected to ease to 5.9%.

Retail sales expanded 8% annually, as seen in November, and slightly faster than the expected rate of 7.9%.

In the U.S., a report from the Commerce Department showed a substantial increase in housing starts in the month of December.

The Commerce Department said housing starts skyrocketed by 16.9% to an annual rate of 1.608 million in December after jumping by 2.6% to a revised rate of 1.375 million in November.

The surge came as a big surprise to economists, who had expected housing starts to rise by 0.7% to a rate of 1.375 million from the 1.365 million originally reported for the previous month.

With the much bigger than expected increase, housing starts soared to their highest level since hitting a rate of 1.649 million in December of 2006.

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