Weak US jobs data spurs gold to 1-week high

LONDON - Gold jumped on Friday to a 1-week high as the dollar fell against the euro after data showed a sharp rise in the U.S. unemployment rate and equity markets slipped on worries about economic growth.

By (Reuters)

Published: Sat 7 Jun 2008, 2:27 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:07 PM

Gold rose nearly three percent to $898.65 a troy ounce and was at $897.35/898.35 at 1535 GMT compared with $874.55/875.95 late in New York on Thursday, when it hit $864.45 -- its lowest level since May 15.

U.S. employers shed jobs for a fifth straight month in May and the unemployment rate jumped to its highest in more than 3-1/2 years, a Labor Department report showed. [ID:nN05349665

"Gold rallied in line with moves down in the dollar. The worry is if unemployment is climbing, then mortgage defaults and subprime losses rise," said David Thurtell, analyst at BNP Paribas.

U.S. unemployment rose to 5.5 percent in May from 5 percent, its highest since Oct. 2004. Some 49,000 jobs were cut from payrolls in May, up from a revised 28,000 that were lost in April.

"The news is bearish for equities -- so gold benefits as an alternate asset class," Thurtell said.

Gold is traditionally used as a hedge against financial uncertainty, which often manifests itself in dollar weakness. It also makes commodities priced in the U.S. currency cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Good day for gold

Also weighing on the dollar and boosting the euro and precious metals was a speech by European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet on Thursday.

Trichet said the central bank was on high alert over inflation and that the governing council could raise rates as soon as its next policy meeting on July 3.

Euro rates currently at 4.0 percent are two percent above those in the United States. Higher ECB rates would make it even more profitable for investors to hold euros rather than dollars.

"Its going to be a good day for gold. Essentially it's hostage to the dollar," said Nick Moore, analyst at ABN Amro.

Platinum gained nearly 4 percent to $2,079 an ounce, the highest since May 28. It was last at $2,073/2,093 an ounce from $2,000.50/2,020.50 an ounce on Thursday.

Platinum hit a record high of $2,290 an ounce on March 4 as worries about supplies from South Africa mounted. South Africa is the world's largest producer of the industrial metal used in autocatalysts.

"South African power shortages are keeping the platinum market on edge as a swift resolution to the structural problems looks far from near," Barclays Capital said in a note.

"We see further upside potential in prices as platinum supplies are heavily dependent on South Africa and the delicate power supply situation as well as mine safety concerns leave mine output extremely susceptible to potential disruptions."

Silver was up at $17.41/17.48 an ounce from $17.12/17.18 an ounce on Thursday. Spot palladium was up at $431/439 an ounce from $421.00/429.00 an ounce.

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