Gold shares headed south alongside the yellow metal on Friday after the January U.S

Gold shares headed south alongside the yellow metal on Friday after the January U.S. employment report came in far above expectations.  The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) – the leading gold sector ETF – dropped 1.7% to $56.50 per share in afternoon trading while COMEX gold futures slid 1.1% to $1,739.70 per ounce.  With the sell-off, the GDX turned negative for the week by 1.3%, but remains higher by 9.9% on a year-to-date basis.

New Gold (NGD.TSX, AMEX: NGD) also made headlines after National Bank Financial analyst Steve Parsons downgraded the shares to Sector Perform from Outperform.  Parsons did maintain his C$13.25 price target, however.    The downgrade followed the release of New Gold’s fourth quarter production results, which included higher cash costs than Parsons was expecting.  “The inclusion of higher operating costs in 2012 and beyond and the addition of higher assumed capex have a negative impact on our valuation, more than offsetting the impact of slightly higher production,” Parsons wrote.