Gold prices moved up sharply on Friday, as equities drifted lower on disappointing U.S. jobs data. A weak dollar too supported the yellow metal's uptick.
Concerns about the spread of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus rendered the mood in global stock markets cautious.
The World Health Organization said today that the new strain, which was first spotted in South Africa, has now been detected in 38 countries.
The new Omicron variant has been detected in at least five states in the U.S.
The dollar index, which dropped to 95.97, recovered a bit to 96.02, still down by about 0.14% from Thursday's close.
Gold futures for February ended up by $21.20 or about 1.2% at $1,783.90 an ounce. For the week, gold futures shed about $2.00.
Silver futures for March ended higher by $0.165 at $22.481 an ounce, while Copper futures for March settled at $4.2670 per pound, down $0.0320 from the previous close.
Data released by the Labor Department showed non-farm payroll employment rose by 210,000 jobs in November after surging by an upwardly revised 546,000 jobs in October. Economists had expected employment to spike by 550,000 jobs compared to the jump of 531,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
Despite the much weaker than expected job growth, the unemployment rate slid to 4.2% in November from 4.6% in October. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to edge down to 4.5%.
With the much bigger than expected decrease, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since hitting 3.5% in February of 2020.
A report from the Institute for Supply Management showed an unexpected acceleration in the pace of growth in U.S. service sector activity in the month of November.
The ISM said its services PMI rose to a record high 69.1 in November from 66.7 in October, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in the sector. The increase surprised economists, who had expected the index to dip to 65.0.
The Commerce Department said factory orders surged up by 1% in October after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.5% in September. Economists had expected factory orders to increase by 0.5% compared to the 0.2% uptick originally reported for the previous month.