Gold prices traded around the unchanged mark on Friday as investors looked ahead to key data on inflation and the state of the American consumer out later in the session.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for August delivery slipped just 4 cents to $1.217.25 a troy ounce by 3:59 AM ET (7:59 GMT).
Gold was on track for weekly gains of 3% Friday, in what would be its first positive close out of three.
Remarks from Federal Reserve (Fed) chair Janet Yellen in her testimony to Congress this week suggested that the pace of future rate hikes would be gradual, while weak inflation data lifted sentiment for the precious metal. Gold has fallen on the back expectations that the U.S. central would continue raising its key benchmark rate, decreasing investor demand for gold, as a rising interest environment increases the opportunity cost of holding the non-interest bearing precious metal.
Still ahead on the economic calendar, June inflation figures will be released at 8:30 AM ET (1230 GMT) Friday. Market analysts expect consumer prices to ease up 0.1%, while core inflation is forecast to increase 0.2%.
On a yearly base, core CPI is projected to climb 1.7%. Core prices are viewed by the Federal Reserve as a better gauge of longer-term inflationary pressure because they exclude the volatile food and energy categories. The central bank usually tries to aim for 2% core inflation or less. Rising inflation would be a catalyst to push the Fed toward raising interest rates.
At the same time Friday, the Commerce Department will publish data on June retail sales. The consensus forecast is that the report will show retail sales rose 0.1% last month. Core sales are forecast to inch up 0.2%. Rising retail sales over time correlate with stronger economic growth, while weaker sales signal a declining economy. Consumer spending accounts for as much as 70% of U.S. economic growth.
Investors will also watch industrial production for June, as well as the preliminary Michigan consumer sentiment for July.
The greenback edged down Friday, showing caution ahead of the data dump. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback's strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, dropped 0.09% at 95.47 by 4:00 AM ET (8:00 GMT).
Elsewhere in metals trading, silver was down 0.46% at $15.619 a troy ounce.
Platinum inched up 0.03% at $907.40 a troy ounce, while palladium gained 0.20% to $856.42 a troy ounce. Copper rose 0.24% to $2.668 a pound.