Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange managed to cut losses Thursday in the last few minutes of trading as the U.S. dollar pulled back ahead of U.S. employment data, but the metal still saw its third straight session decline. The most active gold contract for June delivery fell 1.1 dollars, or 0.07 percent, to settle at 1,552.4 dollars per ounce. According to market analysts, investors are seeking higher returns in equities as the global economic recovery cuts demand for safe haven assets. Strength in the dollar had put pressure on dollar-denominated gold prices, with the greenback rallying against the Japanese yen after the Bank of Japan announced an aggressive easing program in an attempt to end deflation and boost economic growth. However, near the end of the COMEX session, the dollar lost more ground against the euro as the market mulled remarks from European Central Bank president (ECB) and decisions by the ECB and Bank of England to keep monetary policy on hold, as expected. Traders of metals are watching closely U.S. employment data due for release Friday. Following a rise in weekly U.S. jobless claims to a four-month high and disappointing data on private payrolls, nonfarm payroll figures will offer a hint as to when the U.S. Federal Reserve will ease back on its asset purchases. Given that backdrop, silver for May delivery lost 3 cents, or 0. 11 percent, to close at 26.767 dollars per ounce.