October 2, 2019 / 3:19 PM / 18 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold climbs over 1% as weak U.S. data feeds economic fears

* Private payrolls growth in U.S. slows in September -ADP

* Wall St eyes steepest slide in nearly six weeks (New throughout, updates prices, market activity and comment)

By Sumita Layek

Oct 2 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose more than 1% on Wednesday as a report showing weaker-than-expected hiring by U.S. private employers stoked economic fears the day after another report showed weak manufacturing activity in the world’s largest economy.

Spot gold jumped 1.6% to $1,502.66 per ounce as of 1:58 p.m. EDT (1758 GMT). A day earlier, the session low of $1,458.50 was the weakest in nearly two months, but prices bounced up as much as 1%.

U.S. gold futures settled up 1.3% at $1,507.90 an ounce.

“The main thing that is moving gold higher right now is yesterday’s manufacturing data that came out worse since 2009... and that has fed expectations of lower interest rates in the U.S. and is pushing gold higher,” said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

“The fact that we have contraction in manufacturing shows the U.S. is not insulated from the rest of the world.”

The ADP National Employment report on Wednesday showed U.S. private employers hired fewer workers than expected in September, pointing to a labor market slowdown.

A day earlier, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported that U.S. manufacturing activity slumped to a more than 10-year low in September.

World equity benchmarks hit their lowest levels in a month as signs of a U.S. slowdown and weak earnings in Europe fanned fears the U.S.-China trade war could push the global economy into a recession. The dollar dropped against the euro and yen but the dollar index, measuring the greenback’s value against a basket of currencies, was little changed.

The weak data bolstered expectations for another interest rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve. This would reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion and should also weigh on U.S. yields and the dollar, in which gold is priced.

Investors await the next Fed meeting later this month. The Fed cut interest rates in September for the second time this year.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said interest rates were “too high” and a strong dollar was hurting U.S. manufacturers.

“Gold has a problem with the dollar index still being near 99 and gold seems to be weathering that storm,” said George Gero, managing director at RBC Wealth Management.

Citing the stock market, the ADP employment report and other factors, Gero said, “gold is probably going to be a little more stable.”

Silver gained 2.3% to $17.62 per ounce. Platinum was up 1.5% to $889.44 an ounce, while palladium rose 2.1% to $1,686.98. (Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by David Gregorio and Nick Zieminski)

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