(Kitco News) - Gold prices are trading near unchanged in early U.S. trading Wednesday. The yellow metal is pausing ahead of key U.S. economic data out Friday morning. Silver prices are up on short covering from the futures traders. December gold futures were last down $0.10 at $1,761.70. December Comex silver was last up $0.253 at $22.785 an ounce.
Traders are looking ahead to the U.S. employment report from the Labor Department on Friday morning—arguably the most important U.S. data point of the month. The key non-farm jobs number in that report is forecast at up 500,000 in September after a paltry gain of 235,000 in August. Look for higher market volatility in the immediate aftermath of the jobs report.
Global stock markets were mostly higher in overnight trading. The U.S. stock indexes are pointed to higher openings when the New York day session begins. Trading has been choppy in the indexes but near-term price downtrends are in place for the S&P and Nasdaq futures. Trader and investor risk appetite is a bit more upbeat Thursday as U.S. lawmakers may be close to agreeing on a short-term debt-limit expansion into December. Also, crude oil and natural gas prices have dropped significantly late this week after Russian President Putin announced Russia would help stabilize global energy prices. That news somewhat assuaged nervous Europeans that are heading into winter and worried about securing natural gas or heating oil.