May 7, 2020 / 3:15 PM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold jumps 2% as U.S. jobs data adds to slowdown fears

 (Updates prices)
    * Weekly jobless claims total 3.169 million
    * Palladium jumps 3%, silver hits 1-week peak
    * For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread,
 in an external browser

    By Eileen Soreng
    May 7 (Reuters) - Gold jumped 2% on Thursday after a string
of weak economic data, including surging unemployment in the
United States, heightened fears over a coronovirus-induced
global downturn, while investors turned their attention to
nonfarm payrolls for further cues. 
    Spot gold        was up 2.1% to $1,720.36 per ounce by 2:33
p.m. EDT (1833 GMT), having earlier hit a more than one-week
high of $1,721.76.
    U.S. gold futures         settled 2.2% higher at $1,725.80.
    "You had high unemployment (numbers) that came out. ...
That's still telling people to maybe look for the safety trade,"
said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors.
    Millions more Americans sought unemployment benefits last
week, suggesting layoffs broadened from consumer-facing
industries to other segments of the economy and could remain
elevated even as many parts of the country start to reopen.
    Another set of data on Thursday showed worker productivity
dropped at its fastest pace in more than four years in the first
quarter amid the largest drop in hours since 2009.
    The host of gloomy economic data has bolstered expectations
of more stimulus measures from central banks and governments
around the world to cushion economic damage from the virus.
    The Bank of England said Britain could be headed for its
biggest economic slump in over 300 years due to the coronavirus
lockdown and kept the door open on Thursday for more stimulus
next month.             
    "Also with the number of COVID-19 cases increasing over the
past few days, people have started to question the reopening of
U.S. states because they are worried about the infection rate
boosting," Matousek added.             
    The outbreak has infected more than 3.71 million people
globally, battered global growth and prompted investors to seek
safe havens such as gold. 
    Today's surge was also helped by "pre-emptive trading" in
anticipation of weak U.S. jobs data due on Friday, said Bob
Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures. 
    Nonfarm payrolls are forecast to have plunged by a historic
22 million in April, which would blow away the record dive of
800,000 seen during the 2007-2009 recession, according to a
Reuters survey of economists. 
    Also on investors' radar are developments surrounding
U.S.-China trade as President Donald Trump's administration is
weighing punitive actions against Beijing over its early
handling of the outbreak.              
    Elsewhere, palladium        rose 2.6% to $1,844.94 per
ounce, while platinum        rose 2.2% to $764.92.
    Silver        gained 2.9% to $15.35, having earlier hit a
one-week peak of $15.42.

 (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Additional reporting
by Arpan Varghese; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Chizu Nomiyama and
Daniel Wallis)
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