COMODOTIES-GOLD - Gold prices moved higher on Thursday, after the release of disappointing U.S. jobless claims data and manufacturing activity data dented demand for the greenback and as investors remained cautious ahead of a highly-anticipated vote on a major U.S. tax reform plan.

Comex gold futures were up $2.24 or about 0.17% at $1,279.83 a troy ounce by 08:40 a.m. ET (12:40 GMT).

The U.S. Department of Labor reported on Thursday that initial jobless claims increased unexpectedly to 249,000 last week.

Separately, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said its manufacturing index fell to 22.7 in November from 27.9 the previous month, confounding expectations for a decline to only 25.0.

The greenback had strengthened mildly after Wednesday's positive U.S. inflation and retail sales reports boosted expectations for a December rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.10% at 93.81, off session highs of 93.90 and still close to the previous session's three-week lows of 93.31.

Gold is sensitive to moves in both U.S. rates and the dollar. A weaker dollar makes gold less expensive for holders of foreign currency, while a rise in U.S. rates lifts the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as bullion.

Meanwhile, U.S. House Republicans were set to pass a sweeping rewrite of the tax codelater Thursday, bringing President Donald Trump and the Republican party closer to their first major legislative win.

The final passage vote is expected soon after Trump speaks with a full conference of House Republicans at an 11:30 a.m. ET (16:30 GMT) closed-door meeting in Washington.

Elsewhere on the Comex, silver futures were up 0.58% at $17.07 a troy ounce.