Gold held onto Friday’s gain amid risk-off sentiment as investors weigh mixed labor data from the U.S., the Federal Reserve’s hawkish tilt and the threat of the omicron variant.
Data Friday showed U.S. job growth registered its smallest increase this year while the unemployment rate fell by more than forecast to 4.2%, offering a mixed picture that may nevertheless push the Fed to quicken the wind-down of pandemic stimulus. It came after Chair Jerome Powell signaled faster tapering of asset purchases amid elevated inflation.
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economists cut their forecasts for the U.S. economy this year and next after deciding that the spread of the omicron strain of the coronavirus would exert a “modest downside” drag on growth. Moderna Inc. President Stephen Hoge said there’s a “real risk” that existing Covid-19 vaccines will be less effective against omicron, while U.S. medical adviser Anthony Fauci said the variant’s severity may be limited.
Bullion climbed Friday to pare a third straight weekly loss, the longest stretch since September, amid the prospects of less accommodative monetary policy and omicron risks. U.S. 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 $1,800 level and we are yet to see any significant safe-haven flows from the recent omicron development,” said John Feeney, business development manager at Sydney-based bullion dealer Guardian Gold Australia. “Gold investors will be paying very close attention to the U.S. inflation numbers out this Friday, so we might see a reaction if we get another beat to the upside.”
Spot gold was steady at $1,784.48 an ounce by 7:13 a.m. in London after rising 0.8% Friday. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed. Silver and palladium fell, while platinum advanced 0.5%.