Gold prices eased slightly in Asia on Thursday with investors eyeing holiday season demand in India for support. Demand in India gains during the fall for the Diwali festival and as a traditional times for weddings. On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, Gold futures for December delivery traded at $1,217.10 a troy ounce, down 0.02%, after hitting an overnight session low of $1,216.30 and off a high of $1,226.70. Overnight, gold futures fell after the greenback advanced on news that far more new homes were sold in the U.S. last month than expected. The Census Bureau reported earlier that U.S. new home sales data rose 18.0% last month to 504,000 units, far surpassing expectations for a 4.4% gain to 430,000 units. New home sales for July were revised to a 1.9% increase from a previously estimated 2.4% drop. Separately, the Department of Energy reported earlier that crude stockpiles plunged by 4.3 million barrels last week, confounding market calls for a build of 386,000, which further stoked expectations that the U.S. economy is improving as evidenced by its demand for fuel and energy. Wednesday’s data came a day after a report showed that the U.S. manufacturing sector expanded in September close to market expectations, which fueled already growing expectations that the Federal Reserve may hike interest rates sooner than markets have previously expected. In October, the Federal Reserve is expected to close its monthly bond-buying program and then begin raising benchmark interest rates some time in 2015. Silver for December delivery was down 0.05% at $17.685 a troy ounce. Copper futures for December delivery were up 0.04% at $3.055 a pound.