CHICAGO, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange ended higher Thursday, with weakness in the U.S. dollar offsetting a better-than-expected economic data showing improvement in the U.S. labor market.
The most active gold contract for December delivery rose 5.5 dollars, or 0.31 percent, to settle at 1,770.6 dollars per ounce.
The statistics released by U.S. Department of Labor indicated the number of initial claims in the week ending October 6 fell 30, 000 to 339,000, defying expectations for a rise in gold price, as market analysts say good economic news is likely to weigh on gold because it encourages appetite for riskier assets.
However, gold found support Thursday from the risk of the eurozone debt crisis now intensifying with the focus on Spain after Standard & Poor's Ratings Services cut Spain's long-term sovereign credit rating by two notches to just above junk status.
Gold is seen as a safe haven investment that investors tend to buy at times of economic and financial uncertainty.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six rival currencies, fell to 79.762 from 80.058 in late trading Wednesday.
Weakness in the U.S. dollar usually boosts dollar-denominated commodities such as gold because it makes them cheaper for holders of other currencies.
Silver for December delivery fell 2.7 cents, or 0.08 percent, to close at 34.082 dollars per ounce.