CHICAGO, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange ended higher Thursday, after applications for jobless benefits in the U.S. rose and as concerns that the European slowdown is worsening boosted demand for safe haven assets.
The most active gold contract for April delivery rose 6.3 dollars, or 0.39 percent, to settle at 1,613.8 dollars per ounce.
There is definitive safe-haven buying in gold market Thursday, both on Cyprus situation but also because of lower equity markets, according to market analysts, as the European Central Bank set the clock ticking on a Cyprus bailout deal, announcing that it would suspend an emergency liquidity lifeline for the country's banks on Monday unless a rescue program is in place.
Meanwhile, Thursday's economic data from the United States, Europe and China failed to impress, providing even more overall support for gold as a safe haven.
Initial jobless claims rose by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 336,000 in the week ended March 16, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday. An index for German manufacturing fell this month, while a measure of euro-area services and manufacturing output contracted more than forecast, London-based Markit Economics said, according to reports.
Given that backdrop, silver for May delivery rose 39.5 cents, or 1.37 percent, to close at 29.212 dollars per ounce.