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In global markets, gold closed at the highest since late 2012 as investors sought insurance against the possibility of further economic slowing
In global markets, gold closed at the highest since late 2012 as investors sought insurance against the possibility of further economic slowing

Gold prices jump to seven-year high

  • While investors continue to seek gold as a haven, it’s still difficult to ship bullion around the world due to coronavirus-related restrictions
  • The prospect of easier monetary policy and low borrowing costs is also fueling demand for bullion

Gold reached a seven-year high as massive U.S. filings for jobless benefits and sweeping steps by the Federal Reserve to shore up the economy bolstered demand for the metal as a haven.

Futures advanced as much as 4.2% after the Fed announced as much as $2.3 trillion in additional aid Thursday, including a pledge to provide support to risky corners of financial markets that have been some of the hardest hit by fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. That came as a report showed U.S. jobless claims surged for a third straight week.

The metal closed at the highest since late 2012 as investors sought insurance against the possibility of further economic slowing, even as U.S. equities rose after the Fed moves. The prospect of easier monetary policy and low borrowing costs is also fueling demand for bullion, which doesn’t offer interest. The yields on U.S. Treasuries fell on Thursday.

“Unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus, negative yielding debt and low interest rates for longer imply gold will continue to attract a flight to safety and quality," Suki Cooper, precious metals analyst at Standard Chartered Plc, said in a note.

Gold futures for June delivery rose 4.1% to $1,752.80 an ounce on the Comex in New York, the highest closing price since October 2012. The metal gained 6.5% in the holiday-shortened week. Spot gold rose 2.2% to $1,681.94 an ounce at mid-afternoon Thursday.

The gap between New York futures and spot prices in London is still elevated, a sign of lingering concern over future supply of the physical form of the metal. While investors continue to seek gold as a haven, it’s still difficult to ship bullion around the world due to coronavirus-related restrictions, sending futures prices even higher.

Uncertainty over when the restrictions will be lifted is raising speculation that dealers face logistical risks. Liquidity is also relatively thin in the market, further exacerbating the price dislocation.

“People are paying the premiums over in the physical market and I think it’s rolling into the futures," said Peter Thomas, a senior vice president at Chicago-based broker Zaner Group. “It’s safe-haven buying. People are scared."

To be sure, there’s plenty of gold available in New York, according to the Comex exchange. Stockpiles available for delivery on futures contracts are at the highest in over a decade, at about 4.4 million ounces.

That compares with just 81,100 ounces -- the amount of gold that’s needed for potential delivery in April based on open interest in the month’s contract. Additionally, total stockpiles tracked by the Comex have surged to a record of over 17 million ounces.

“The market itself is not broken, no, it is dealing with the exogenous shock of the much reduced shipping," said Rhona O’Connell, head of market analysis for EMEA and Asia at INTL FCStone. “It’s the inability to move metal around that makes people nervous about committing to short positions on the futures."

All said, the gaps should be temporary as major refineries restart operations, Standard Chartered’s Cooper said.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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