Gold prices fell sharply on Friday, giving up the previous day’s gains, after US data showed a surprise jump in employment numbers in January.
Gold was trading a few cents either side of $2,055 an ounce for most of the day, but fell suddenly to as low as $2,028 an ounce by early-afternoon.
The losses came immediately after US Non-Farm Payrolls figures showed that the US economy had added 353,000 jobs in January, compared with expectations of only 180,000. Separate figures showed that the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7% in January, slightly below expectations of 3.8%.
The figures pointed to a stronger-than-expected US economy, notionally providing the US Fed with greater leeway in maintaining higher interest rates for longer in a bid to cool inflation. Higher interest rates create a hurdle for precious metals prices as they raise the opportunity cost of holding non-yield-bearing assets.
Looking ahead, Monday will see the release of the US ISM Services PMI figures for January, which should help shed further light on the state of the US economy.
Recent data from interest rate traders suggests the market believes there is a 78% chance that the Fed will maintain the current 5.25% rate at its meeting on March 20, and a 57% chance that it will cut rates by 25 basis points at its following meeting on May 1.
Frank’s experience covering the commodities markets spans 22 years, with a particular specialism in metals, carbon and energy markets. He has worked as a senior editor for S&P Global Commodity Insights (formerly Platts) and before this, at ICIS-LOR, a part of Reed Business Information (Reed Elsevier), where he covered the petrochemicals markets from 2003 to 2005.
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