Gold is heading for the biggest monthly gain since 2016 as top central banks ramp up stimulus to repair the economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, boosting the metal’s allure as a store of value.
Bullion traded near the highest since 2012 after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell voiced concern Wednesday the crisis could leave permanent scars on the U.S. economy, while leaving interest rates near zero. Next up, the European Central Bank decides Thursday if more action is needed amid the historic slump. Earlier this week, the Bank of Japan added stimulus.
Gold has rallied in 2020 as investors sought havens amid the economic downturn triggered by the outbreak, with the unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus sparking concerns about currency debasement. Holdings in exchange-traded funds have hit a record, aided by forecasts that prices have scope for more gains. Bullion’s advance this month means it’s risen alongside risk assets including equities, which have benefited as lockdowns ease.
“Gold is caught in a tug-of-war between a steady stream of positive news on the virus front and rising expectations that global fiscal and monetary stimulus efforts will only intensify,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda Corp., said in a note. “The Fed was pretty clear they are not done with announcing new stimulus measures and that should ultimately provide a nice backdrop for higher gold prices.”
Futures rose as much as 1.1% to $1,733 an ounce on the Comex and traded at $1,732.90 at 1:58 p.m. in Singapore. Spot prices were at $1,714.29, up 8.7% in April. Two weeks ago, immediate delivery metal hit $1,747.36, the highest since November 2012.
In his remarks, Powell repeatedly called the policy stance “appropriate,” noting the Fed has promised to keep rates near zero until it is confident the economy is on track to achieve the central bank’s goals of maximum employment and price stability.
Investors were also weighing signs of progress in treating the virus after Gilead Sciences Inc. said its experimental drug helped Covid-19 patients recover faster. The Food and Drug Administration plans to announce emergency use authorization for the drug, the New York Times reported.
“While optimism is growing that a major breakthrough is nearing with the fight against the coronavirus, an immediate solution is still some time away,” Oanda’s Moya said. “Economic activity will not return to its pre-crisis levels for at least a year and that should provide a strong backdrop for gold.”
In other precious metals, spot silver and platinum have risen in April, while palladium is set for the biggest monthly loss since 2015.
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