Gold / Silver / Copper futures - weekly outlook: February 15 - 19

New York (Feb 14)  Gold prices declined on Friday, as global equity markets recovered, but the precious metal still scored its best week since late 2008, boosted by a flight to safety.

Gold for February delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange shed $8.40, or 0.67%, to close the week at $1,239.40 a troy ounce.

Wall Street closed sharply higher on Friday, with the Dow gaining more than 300 points to snap a five-day losing streak, as financial and energy shares rallied. U.S. equities fell sharply Thursday amid a global selloff, with the Dow falling more than 250 points.

Other traditional safe havens also fell out of favor on Friday, including U.S. and German government debt as well as the Japanese yen.

Meanwhile, investors digested data on U.S. retail sales, which rose 0.2% in January, above the 0.1% gain expected. Import prices in the U.S. fell 1.1%, less than expected. Other data points due Friday included consumer sentiment, which came in below expectations, and business inventories, which rose 0.1% in December.

Investors also reacted to comments from New York Fed President William Dudley, in which he said the key components of the U.S. economy remain healthy.

On Thursday, gold soared to $1,263.90, the most since February 2015, before settling at $1,247.80, up $53.20, or 4.45%, amid growing skepticism over the Federal Reserve's ability to raise interest rates as much as it would like this year.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday that financial conditions have become less supportive to growth as foreign developments pose risks to the economic outlook, but also maintained that moderate growth at home would justify "gradual adjustments" to the Fed's monetary policy stance.

A gradual path to higher rates is seen as less of a threat to gold prices than a swift series of increases.

For the week, gold prices jumped $65.60, or 7.02%, the third straight weekly gain and the best weekly performance since December 2008.

Gold futures have been well-supported in recent weeks amid indications global economic and financial headwinds could make it tough for the Fed to raise interest rates as much as it would like this year. Market participants have all but priced out any rate hikes this year, while the Fed is anticipating four more.

Prices of the precious metal are up more than 16% so far this year as investors seek safe havens in the face of mounting instability in other financial markets.

Also on the Comex, silver futures for March delivery eased down 0.4 cents, or 0.03%, on Friday to close at $15.79 a troy ounce. On Thursday, silver rose to $15.99, the most since October 29.

On the week, silver futures climbed 79.0 cents, or 6.85%, the fourth consecutive weekly rise.

Elsewhere in metals trading, copper for March delivery advanced 2.2 cents, or 1.12%, to end the week at $2.029 a pound on Friday, as traders closed out bearish bets ahead of Chinese data expected next week and before the long holiday weekend in the U.S.

For the week, Comex copper prices lost 5.2 cents, or 3.48%, as investors slashed holdings of the red metal amid persistent worries over a China-led global economic slowdown.

In the week ahead investors will be watching U.S. inflation data for indications on whether the Federal Reserve will raise rates at all this year.

China is to release what will be closely watched trade and inflation data and China’s markets are to reopen Monday after the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.

Ahead of the coming week, has compiled a list of these and other significant events likely to affect the markets.

Monday, February 15

Japan is to publish preliminary data on fourth quarter economic growth.

China is to report on the trade balance.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is to testify on monetary policy before the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, in Brussels.

Markets in the U.S. will be closed for a national holiday.

Tuesday, February 16

The U.K. is to publish data on consumer inflation.

In the euro zone, the ZEW Institute is to report on German economic sentiment.

The U.S. is to release a report manufacturing activity in the New York region.

Wednesday, February 17

The U.K. is to publish the monthly employment report.

The U.S. is to release data on producer prices, building permits, housing starts and industrial production.

Later Wednesday, the Fed is to issue the minutes of its January monetary policy meeting, where it kept rates on hold.

Thursday, February 18

China is to release data on consumer and producer price inflation.

The ECB is to publish the minutes of its most recent policy meeting.

The U.S. is to produce reports on manufacturing activity in Philadelphia and initial jobless claims.

Friday, February 19

The U.K. is to release data on retail sales and public sector borrowing.

The U.S. is to round up the week with data on consumer inflation.