Gold holds advance as virus adds to risks for global growth

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) – Gold held onto last Friday’s (Dec 3) gain amid risk-off sentiment as investors weigh mixed labour data from the United States, the Federal Reserve’s hawkish tilt and the threat of the Covid-19 Omicron variant.

Data on last Friday showed US job growth registered its smallest increase this year while the unemployment rate fell by more than forecast to 4.2 per cent, offering a mixed picture that may nevertheless push the Fed to quicken the wind-down of pandemic stimulus.

It came after Chairman Jerome Powell signalled faster tapering of asset purchases amid elevated inflation. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs Group economists cut their forecasts for the US economy this year and next after deciding that the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus would exert a “modest downside” drag on growth.

Moderna president Stephen Hoge said there’s a “real risk” that existing Covid-19 vaccines will be less effective against Omicron, while US medical adviser Anthony Fauci said the variant’s severity may be limited.

Bullion climbed last Friday to pare a third straight weekly loss, the longest stretch since September, amid the prospects of less accommodative monetary policy and Omicron risks.

US consumer prices due this Friday are projected to show the largest annual advance in decades, keeping pressure on the Fed to deliver swifter tightening.

“Gold is still struggling to break above the US$1,800 level and we are yet to see any significant safe-haven flows from the recent Omicron development,” said Mr John Feeney, business development manager at Sydney-based bullion dealer Guardian Gold Australia.

“Gold investors will be paying very close attention to the US inflation numbers out this Friday, so we might see a reaction if we get another beat to the upside.”

Spot gold was steady at US$1,783.50 an ounce by noon in Singapore after rising 0.8 per cent last Friday.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed.

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