Gold is headed for its biggest weekly gain since May as demand for haven assets, driven by the escalating war in Ukraine, outweighed expectations for the US Federal Reserve to hike interest rates soon.
Prices for the precious metal climbed on Friday amid falling Treasury yields, after earlier spiking on news that Russia had attacked Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Spot gold went up 1.3% to $1,961.74/oz by 11:25 a.m. ET, a level last seen during the record-setting month of August 2020. US gold futures rose 1.4%, trading at $1,963.90/oz in New York.
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Bullion held its gains after February’s US job report showed unemployment falling more than expected, a sign traders are already pricing in a Fed rate hike next month.
Chair Jerome Powell reaffirmed this week that the US central bank is on track to raise rates this month and start a series of hikes to curb the highest inflation in decades, though Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means it will move “carefully.”
Investors have sought out bullion as a store of value amid the uncertainty, with inflows into exchange-traded funds backed by the metal amounting to about 34 tonnes so far this week, according to initial data compiled by Bloomberg.
“Russia-Ukraine crisis will continue to support the prospect for higher precious metal prices,” Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen said in a Reuters note.
“This not only due to a potential short-term safe-haven bid which will ebb and flow, but more importantly due to what this tension will mean for inflation, growth and central banks’ rate hike expectations,” he added.
Meanwhile, palladium also extended its rally to a near 10-month high on Friday as concerns over supply shortages from top-producer Russia mounted. Spot palladium surged 5.2% to $2,934.91/oz, within striking distance of the $3,000/oz level.
(With files from Bloomberg and Reuters)