Silver Jumps...Gold Futures Rise as U.S. Consumer Sentiment Ebbs

San Francisco (Feb 13)  Gold futures rose for the second straight day as weaker U.S. consumer confidence added to concerns that the economy is slowing, boosting demand for the precious metal as a haven. Silver jumped the most in four weeks.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary sentiment index decreased to 93.6 from a final January reading of 98.1 that was the highest since the start of 2004, figures showed Friday. A report on Thursday revealed that sales at U.S. retailers fell more than forecast in January.

Gold dropped 29 percent in the previous two years, posting consecutive annual losses for the first time since 1998. Faster U.S. expansion prompted some investors to lose faith in the metal as a store of value amid speculation that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates. Prices rebounded 8 percent in January as slowing foreign economies cast doubt that American growth would remain resilient.

“Anything that helps push back on the Fed rate-increase is helpful to gold,” George Gero, a precious-metal strategist at RBC Capital Markets in New York, said in a telephone interview.

Gold futures for April delivery climbed 0.5 percent to settle at $1,227.10 an ounce at 1:38 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Yesterday, the price rose 0.1 percent.

This week, the price dropped 0.6 percent, the third straight decline.

Silver futures for March delivery jumped 3 percent to $17.294 an ounce, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since Jan. 16.

The spot gold-silver ratio this week fell 4 percent to 70.88 at 2:47 p.m., heading for the biggest drop since mid-August 2013, according to Bloomberg generic prices.

On the Comex, silver has gained 11 percent this year, while gold advanced 3.6 percent.

Palladium futures for March delivery jumped 2.7 percent to $794.45 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the biggest gain since Jan. 20.

Platinum futures for April delivery rose 0.6 percent to $1,207.50 an ounce.

Source: Bloomberg