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COMODOTIES-GOLD

Gold prices drifted weaker on Friday in Asia on political risk concerns as a dramatic inter-party showdown loomed in the U.S. as the votes needed to replace the Obama-era healthcare law fell short on Thursday and President Donald Trump's office said he was "done negotiating" and wanted an up-or-down decision on Friday.

Republican leaders failed to rally enough support to pass the GOP bill in a planned Thursday vote in the House. At a Republican House caucus meeting Thursday night, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that if Trump does not get a vote on the proposal, he will move on to other priorities and leave the ACA, also known as Obamacare, in place.

Earlier, House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy told CNN that House debate on the bill will start Friday morning. Later, House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a terse statement: "We have been promising" this, and "tomorrow we're proceeding." Members of the Freedom Caucus, Republican legislators, however vow to vote "no."

Gold for April delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 0.28% to $1,243.75 a troy ounce, while copper traded dropped 0.98% at $2.625 as a cloudy supply picture appears to have been resolved in the case of a major mine.

A strike at BHP Billiton (LON:BLT)'s Escondida copper mine in Chile, the world's largest copper mine, is expected to end after workers decided to invoke a rarely used legal provision to allow them to extend their old contract

Overnight, gold prices traded lower on Thursday, after the dollar steadied, amid a mixed batch of U.S. economic data, ahead of a key House vote on a healthcare bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Gold prices pulled back from a session high of $1,253.15 in early morning U.S. trade weighed by a rise in the dollar, as new home sales data confounded expectations while initial jobless claims rose faster than expected.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday new home sales increased 6.1 % to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 592,000 units last month compared to expectations of a 0.7% increase to 565,000 units.

Elsewhere, initial jobless claims increased by 15,000 to 258,000 in the week ending March 18 from the previous week’s revised total of 243,000 against analysts’ expectations of a drop by 1,000 to 240,000.