January 3, 2019 / 6:01 AM / 5 months ago

Gold rises to highest since mid-2018 on global growth woes

(Reuters) - Gold prices climbed to a 6-1/2 month peak, moving closer to the key $1,300 an ounce level on Thursday, as concerns about economic slowdown gripped global markets and fuelled demand for safe-haven bullion.

Gold bars are seen in the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna, Austria, December 15, 2017. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/Files

Spot gold gained 0.5 percent to $1,290.60 per ounce at 11:28 a.m. ET (1628 GMT), having earlier touched $1,292.32, its highest since June 15.

“Gold is overbought on most measures and needs to consolidate but with the speculative long still building, the market will be looking for $1,300 sooner than expected,” Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen said.

“If the fourth quarter theme of lower dollar, stocks and yields carries on, gold is likely to break higher and set its sight on the previous high around $1,380.”

A warning by Apple Inc on revenue rocked financial markets on Thursday amid the backdrop of worries over slowing global economic and corporate growth.

Gold is traditionally considered a safe investment during times of uncertainty, and weakness in the U.S. dollar has added to demand for the precious metal by making it cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Gold denominated in sterling peaked at 1,031.89 pounds an ounce during the day, its highest since Sept. 8, 2017, while in euro terms it rose to 1,137.47 euros, the highest since June 9, 2017.

“The performance of gold in other currencies than the U.S. dollar is driven by the performance of these currencies versus the dollar,” said Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke.

“We see the gold market in a longer-term recovery, driven by a combination of normalization of market sentiment, a weakening U.S. dollar and returning investment demand.”

Reflective of increased interest in bullion, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose to 795.31 tonnes, the highest since early August.

“Recent market volatility has confirmed that gold remains a safe-haven asset and the yellow metal helps to reduce volatility in a portfolio,” said Giovanni Staunovo, an analyst at UBS.

“Gold prices have behaved as you would expect during the recent period of uncertainty, rising as expectations of Fed tightening next year have been cut sharply and equities have sold off.”

Gold briefly pared some gains earlier in the session after data showed U.S. private payrolls increased by the most in nearly two years in December.

However, prices recovered as the dollar fell after separate data from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) showed the U.S. manufacturing activity index at its lowest since November 2016.

Among other precious metals, palladium gained 0.2 percent to $1,257.99 per ounce, while platinum eased 0.2 percent to $792.99 per ounce.

Silver rose 0.9 percent to $15.65 an ounce, after rising to its highest since July 17.

Additional reporting by Arijit Bose in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Chris Reese

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