Gold prices were slightly firmer on Thursday, and could stay on the rise as global economic prospects remain shaky with investors watching for more jobs data out of the United States.
The better-than-expected manufacturing data from the U.S. on top of strong data out of China on Wednesday lifted equities and commodities, but initial jobless claims due on Thursday and payroll data on Friday are likely to show a still grim job market in the U.S. and spur safe-haven demand in gold.
Today we'll be looking at initial jobless figures. There's a possibility that gold may make a second attempt to reach the $1,250 level, said Ong Yi Ling, an analyst at Philip Futures, who saw a support level at $1,240.
Ong said recent upbeat economic figures were not strong enough to dispel fears of a stalled recovery.
In the longer term, we're seeing that the economic recovery still has several soft spots such as the labor market. So I still expect gold to continue on the upward trend.
Spot gold gained $2.8, or 0.2 percent, to $1,246.30 an ounce by 0604 GMT (2:04 a.m. EDT), after having hit a two-month high of $1,254.65 on Wednesday, which is just $10 below the all-time high.
U.S. gold futures for December delivery were little changed at $1,248.2.
Traders said profit-taking at the $1,250 level drove gold lower after its Wednesday peak, but there was an inflow of funds into the gold market.
After the long summer holiday season, we are seeing more funds and investors getting back to the market, said a Hong Kong-based trader who expects gold to hit a new high.
Holdings in both SPDR Gold Trust and iShares Silver Trust continued rising, highlighting growing interest from investors.
Holdings in the world's largest gold-backed, exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD.P), rose 1.52 tonnes to 1,304.028 tonnes on September 1, from 1,302.508 tonnes on August 31. They have been rising for the past week.
In turn, the world's largest silver-backed exchange-traded fund, the iShares Silver Trust, said holdings rose 53.27 tonnes to 9,280.40 tonnes on September 1 from a day earlier.
The physical market is quiet, with some selling from Indonesia, and a mix of buying and selling from Thailand, a dealer based in Singapore said.
We saw some light buying after the market came off yesterday's high. As long as prices stay in the $1,240-range, they will not rush to sell. They are still bullish at this point, said the dealer, adding that $1,260 would be the next level to test.
Spot palladium edged down 0.2 percent to $514.93, after having vaulted to $527.5 on Wednesday, its highest since May 14.