Gold trims weekly loss

Melbourne-Australia (Mar 13)  Gold trimmed a second weekly decline, rebounding from the longest slump in 17 years, as investors weighed data for clues on when the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates in the world’s largest economy.

Bullion for immediate delivery climbed as much as 0.7 percent to $1,161.85 an ounce and was at $1,158.81 by 3.03pm in Singapore, according to Bloomberg generic pricing. Prices fell for a ninth day on Thursday to cap the longest losing run since 1998 and are set for a 0.7 percent fall this week. The metal dropped to $1,147.72 on March 11, the lowest since December 1.

Gold erased its 2015 gains last week as better-than-expected US jobs data spurred speculation the Fed will raise rates for the first time since 2006, boosting the dollar. Reports on Thursday showed retail sales unexpectedly dropped last month, while fewer Americans than forecast filed claims for jobless benefits. US central bankers are scheduled to meet next week to assess policy, and may drop their pledge to be “patient” on increasing borrowing costs.

“Since last Friday’s strong US non-farm payroll data, world markets have been driven by expectations of an early start to the Fed’s rate hike programme,” CMC Markets wrote in a note. “US retail sales data has shifted thinking on this, adding an element of risk to the early rate hike scenario.”

Right track

US purchases unexpectedly dropped 0.6 percent in February, a third straight fall, according to the Commerce Department. The Labour Department report affirmed that the job market remains on the right track, with the number of people filing for unemployment benefits declining 36 000 to 289 000 in the period to March 7, the fewest in three weeks.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index dropped 0.4 percent on Thursday, snapping a six-day advance. The gauge of the currency remains 1.3 percent higher this week, heading for a fourth weekly advance. This year, it has risen 7.4 percent while gold for immediate delivery lost 2.1 percent.

Gold for April delivery added 0.5 percent to $1,158 on the Comex in New York, paring a second weekly drop. Investors reduced holdings in bullion-backed exchange-traded funds for a 12th day on Thursday.

Silver for immediate delivery was little changed at $15.606 an ounce, poised to decline 1.9 percent this week. Spot platinum increased 0.2 percent to $1,120 an ounce, trimming this week’s loss to 3.6 percent. The price fell to $1,113.75 on Thursday, the lowest since 2009. Palladium jumped 0.8 percent to $796.15 an ounce, also paring a weekly decline.