Gold prices rose the most in a week after U.S. employers added fewer workers than forecast last month, increasing pressure on the Federal Reserve to maintain lower interest rates.
Payrolls climbed by 209,000 in July, Labor Department figures showed today. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 230,000 increase. The jobless rate climbed to 6.2 percent from 6.1 percent in June.
Fed policy makers this week said they will keep their benchmark rate low until wages accelerate and more workers find jobs. This year, gold has climbed 7.7 percent, partly on concern that the U.S. recovery would falter.
“Today’s numbers show that the economic growth is not consistent with the market expectations,” Edward Dempsey, the chief investment officer at Pension Partners LLC, said. “People think that this number is an indication that the rate hike will not happen soon.”
Gold futures for December delivery rose 0.9 percent to settle at $1,294.80 an ounce at 1:43 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since July 25. The price fell 3 percent in July as a U.S. equity rally to a record eroded demand for the metal as a haven.
The metal surged 70 percent from December 2008 to June 2011 as the Fed bought debt and held borrowing costs at an all-time low. Last year, gold tumbled 28 percent, the most in three decades, amid concern that the central bank would taper monetary stimulus as the economy gained traction and inflation remained muted.
Gross domestic product in the second quarter rose at a 4 percent annualized rate, compared with a revised 2.1 percent drop in the first quarter, U.S. data showed July 30. On that day, the Fed reduced monthly bond purchases to $25 billion, capping six straight cuts of $10 billion each since November.
Silver futures for September delivery fell 0.2 percent to $20.371 an ounce on the Comex. This week, the price dropped 1.3 percent, the third straight decline and the longest slump since Nov. 22.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, palladium futures for September delivery fell 1 percent to $864.55 an ounce. This week, the price dropped 1.7 percent, the most since June 13.
Platinum futures for October delivery fell 0.1 percent to $1,463.30 an ounce. This week, the metal declined 1 percent, the third straight drop and the longest slump since March 28.
This year, palladium jumped 20 percent, and platinum advanced 6.5 percent. The metals are used mainly for pollution- control devices in cars.
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