BENGALURU: Gold jumped more than 1% on Friday, surpassing the key $1,350 level for the first time since April last year, as a spur of weak economic data from both China and the United States, and political concerns in the Middle East raised safe-haven demand.
Spot gold climbed 1.01% to $1,355.49 per ounce as of 0749 GMT, after hitting its highest level since April 11, 2018 at $1,358.04 earlier in the session.
Bullion has risen 1.1% so far this week, keeping the yellow metal on track for its fourth consecutive weekly gain.
U.S. gold futures jumped 1.2% to $1,359.50 an ounce.
“With geopolitical risk premium ratcheting higher on the back of Middle East tensions and autonomy protest in Hong Kong, gold represents dependable insurance against those mounting geopolitical risks,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.
On Thursday, Washington blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, raising concerns about a new U.S.-Iranian confrontation.
Scuffles broke out between demonstrators and police in Hong Kong on Thursday as hundreds of people kept up a protest against a planned extradition law with mainland China.
Meanwhile, China’s industrial output growth slowed to a more than 17-year low of 5% in May, the latest sign of weakening demand in the world’s second-largest economy as the United States ramps up trade pressure.
“When the markets start waxing bearish economic data, it’s the global recession they are concerned about, triggered by escalation of trade war,” Innes said.
“If we have world’s second-largest economy struggling, arguably we also have the U.S. struggling, this is bad and we know we are one step away from recession.”
Impact of the long-drawn trade war was also evident on the U.S. labor market, which saw an unexpected rise in the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment over the last week.
Recent economic readings out of U.S. have also boosted expectations of a rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve, pulling short-dated U.S. Treasury yields lower on Thursday ahead of the central bank’s meeting next week.
“Gold traded higher as its appeal as an alternative investment in times of uncertainty. The yellow metal has risen as the probabilities of a summer interest rate cut by the Fed have increased,” Alfonso Esparza, a senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note.
Among other precious metals, silver gained 1% to $15.04, its highest in a week. Platinum rose 0.7% to $813.08.
Palladium climbed 0.4% to $1,450.85 after hitting its highest since April 29 at $1,453.30 earlier in the session.
The auto-catalyst metal has gained 7% so far this week and is set to post its best week since week ended Sept. 21, 2018. - Reuters