Gold aims for $1,650 an ounce, rising for the seventh straight session yesterday and heading for its best week in more than six months as news of the coronavirus worsens, sending investors to safe havens.
The yellow metal spent its fourth day above the $1,600-an-ounce threshold on Comex as uncertainty about the spread, duration and economic impact of the virus continues to make headlines. The death and casualty toll from the coronavirus, designated COVID19, increased Friday after dropping for the prior three days.
The virus is a World Health Organization-designated global health emergency which has killed more than 2,200 people worldwide and sickened almost 77,000. Most of the cases have been in China.
South Korea reported 52 new cases and Japan its first fatalities. Key manufacturing gauges in Australia and Japan fell and early export orders for South Korea indicated that Chinese demand was declining, Bloomberg reported.
Front-month gold futures rose 0.5% Thursday to settle at $1,620.50 an ounce on Comex. The April contract gained 2.2% this week through Thursday. There was no settlement Monday as U.S. financial markets were closed for the Presidents Day holiday. Futures are up 2.1% this month after advancing 4.3% in January, the best monthly performance since August. Currently, the April contract is at $1,645.80.
Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.25% Thursday to 933.94 metric tons, the highest level since November 2016, Reuters reported.
Finance ministers from the Group of 20 nations, representing the world’s largest economies, are set to meet this weekend in Riyadh. It’s the first such gathering since the outbreak of the virus, and how to cope with the fallout of the disease is expected to dominate discussions.
In economic news, U.S. existing home sales data are expected out Friday, as are euro-area PMI and inflation data. The initial jobless claims report for the week to Feb. 15, which was released Thursday, showed that applications for unemployment benefits increased by 4,000 to 210,000, in line with the expectations of analysts surveyed by MarketWatch.
Silver was little changed Thursday at $18.32 an ounce on Comex, but March futures were up 3.3% for the week, outpacing gold. Silver gained is up 1.7% so far this month after a 0.5% rally in January and is on track to post its best week in nearly 6-months
Spot palladium has had a stellar week. It reached another record high yesterday on its continuing supply crunch. It’s up 11% this week. Spot platinum fell 2.7% Thursday and was up 1.5% for the week to Thursday.
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