Gold surged to six-year high as geopolitical tensions in the Middle East ratcheted up, boosting the precious metal’s appeal as a hedge against uncertainty.
Iran’s government said over the weekend that it would no longer honor any limits on its enrichment of uranium after the U.S. killed a key Iranian military commander late last week. Iraq’s parliament also voted to expel U.S. troops from the country. A U.S. airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force unit, Friday at Baghdad International Airport.
Trump on Sunday threatened “disproportionate” strikes on Iran if it retaliates on U.S. targets. He also threatened to impose sanctions against Iraq and said that if U.S. troops did leave, Baghdad would have to pay Washington for the cost of the air base there.
February gold futures approached $1,600 an ounce early Monday on Comex. They rose 1.6% Friday to settle at $1,552.40. Gold advanced 3.7% last week and rose 3.4% in December. Gold is seen as a safe-haven asset and typically gets a boost in times of political or economic uncertainty.
The yellow metal had its biggest annual gain since 2010 last year, supported by looser monetary policy, a trade standoff with China, global unrest and buying from central banks and exchange-traded funds. But it had softened toward the end of the year amid signals that the U.S. and China were on the brink of signing a phase-one trade agreement.
India’s gold imports fell 12% in 2019 from a year earlier to the lowest level in three years, Reuters reported Friday, citing an unidentified government source. Retail buying slipped in the second half of the year as local prices rallied to a record.
In economic news, investors are awaiting the key monthly U.S. employment report for December, which is scheduled for release Friday, and a number of Federal Reserve officials are set to speak Thursday and could provide some insight into the state of the economy.
Silver rose 0.6% Friday to settle at $18.15 an ounce on Comex. The March futures contract advanced 1.2% last week and gained 4.8% in December.
Spot palladium, a metal used primarily in autocatalysts, hit a record early Monday above $2,000 an ounce amid a supply crunch. It rallied 4.3% last week and advanced 5.6% in December. Spot platinum was up 3.8% last week and increased 7.9% in December.
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