MTECHTIPS- Gold prices extended overnight losses to touch the lowest level in almost four months during North America’s session on Thursday, amid growing expectations for a December rate hike by the Federal Reserve. Gold for December delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell to an intraday low of $1,254.00 a troy ounce, a level not seen since June 24. It was last at $1,255.65 by 9:40 AM ET (13:40 GMT), down $12.95, or 1.02%. The U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending October 1 decreased by 5,000 to 249,000 from the previous week’s total of 254,000. Analysts had expected jobless claims to rise by 3,000 to 257,000 last week. First-time claims were the lowest since April, when initial applications for aid were at levels not seen since November 1973. Market participants were focusing on Friday’s U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for further indications on the strength of the job market, as the Federal Reserve has indicated that future interest rate decisions will be data-dependent. The consensus forecast is that the data will show jobs growth of 175,000 in September, following an increase of 151,000 in August. The unemployment rate is forecast to hold steady at 4.9%, while average hourly earnings are expected to rise 0.2% after gaining 0.1% a month earlier.