Gold gains as omicron, inflation worries burnish safe-haven appeal

Gold gains as omicron, inflation worries burnish safe-haven appeal

A man counting gold bars.

Akos Stiller | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Gold rose above the key $1,800 level on Friday and was set for its first weekly gain in five as worries over the omicron surge and hot inflation drove investors to safe-haven assets.

Spot gold was up 0.2% at $1,802.12 per ounce by 1:56 p.m. ET, taking its rise so far this week to 1.1%. U.S. gold futures settled up 0.4% at $1,804.90.

Equities fell across the board, reeling from a hawkish turn by global central banks looking to tame rising price pressures and the economic risk posed by rising COVID-19 cases.

“Growth is going to slow into next quarter, and U.S. equities are correcting off their highs, so it seems to be a panic out of equities into safe-haven assets such as gold and silver,” said Phillip Streible, chief market strategist at Blue Line Futures in Chicago.

The U.S. Federal Reserve meeting outcome had been a “big cloud of uncertainty” over precious metals and now the focus will be on the labor data, Streible said.

The Fed on Wednesday signaled three interest rate hikes by end-2022, a move that would have typically weighed on gold as higher interest rates increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

But the metal marched higher because rate hike prospects had been priced in before the announcement, analysts said.

Gold’s gains came despite inflows into the dollar, also considered a safe store of value during geopolitical uncertainties.

But its outlook for 2022 “remains clouded with most of the bearish gold forecasts being driven by expectations for sharply higher real yields,” Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen said in a note.

Auto-catalyst metal palladium rose 3.1% to $1,782.99, extending sharp gains from Thursday.

A rebound in the auto sector is driving demand for palladium, Blue Line Futures’ Streible said.

Silver steadied at $22.47 while platinum rose 0.5% to $940.71.

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