Gold futures turned higher to hit the best levels of the session on Thursday, after data showed that the number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week rose to a six-week high .

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for December delivery inched up 0.3%, or $4.00, to trade at $1,318.70 a troy ounce during U.S. morning hours.

Prices held in a narrow range between $1,310.20 and $1,320.60 an ounce. A day earlier, gold prices eased up 0.3%, or $3.90, to settle at $1,314.50.

Futures were likely to find support at $1,288.50, the low from August 6 and resistance at $1,324.30, the high from August 8.

Gold turned higher after the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits increased by 21,000 to 311,000 last week from the previous week’s revised total of 290,000.

Analysts had expected jobless claims to rise by 5,000 to 295,000 last week.

Continuing jobless claims in the week ended August 2 rose to 2.544 million from 2.519 million in the preceding week. Analysts had expected continuing claims to fall to 2.500 million.

The disappointing data prompted traders to trim bets the Federal Reserve will begin raising rates in the first half of next year.

Prices of the precious metal were lower earlier after comments made by Russian President Vladimir Putin helped ease tensions surround the crisis in Ukraine.

In a speech in Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would do "everything in our power" to stop the violence in eastern Ukraine, adding that the country did not need conflict with the outside world.

Also on the Comex, silver for September delivery tacked on 0.29%, or 5.8 cents, to trade at $19.90 a troy ounce.

Elsewhere in metals trading, copper for September delivery slumped 0.18%, or 0.6 cents, to trade at an eight-week low of $3.106 a pound after data showed that Germany’s economy contracted in the second quarter while growth in France stagnated.

Europe as a region is third in global demand for the industrial metal.

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