Gold Ends Longest Slump in 19 Weeks on Bets China Demand to Rise

Apr 02, 2014 3:18 pm ET

April 2 (Bloomberg) -- Gold rose, ending the longest slump in 19 weeks, on speculation that demand for bars and jewelry will increase in China after futures touched a seven-week low.

ANZ Banking Group Ltd. said today its gauge of demand increased late last month in China, the world’s biggest buyer. Iraq’s central bank plans to process 11 metric tons for public sale, and will import bars to sell to goldsmiths. The outlook for reduced U.S. monetary stimulus and higher borrowing costs helped push futures yesterday to the lowest since Feb. 11.

“People are betting on increased physical buying and bargain hunting at these levels,” Phil Streible, a senior commodity broker at R.J. O’Brien & Associates in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “This may be temporary, as prices could head lower because of expectations of higher interest rates.”

Gold futures for June delivery rose 0.8 percent to settle at $1,290.80 an ounce at 1:45 p.m. on the Comex in New York. The price has climbed 7.4 percent this year. China overtook India as the largest buyer last year

The metal dropped in the previous five sessions, the longest slump since Nov. 13. Yesterday, gold fell as low as $1,277.40 after dropping 2.9 percent in March amid signs of an improving U.S. economy.

Iraq’s central bank “will need to buy from the market,” Bernard Sin, the head of currency and metal trading at MKS (Switzerland) SA, a Geneva-based refiner, said in an e-mail. That’s “positive for gold, if that becomes reality,” he said.

Stimulus End

Last year, gold tumbled 28 percent, the most since 1981, as U.S.equities rallied to a record and inflation remained muted. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on March 19 that the central bank may end asset purchases this fall and increase borrowing costs six months after that.

Gold jumped 70 percent from December 2008 to June 2011 as the central bank pumped more than $2 trillion into the financial system and cut interest rates to a record in a bid to boost the economy.

In 2013, India’s government restricted gold imports to cut a current account deficit. Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan said today that curbs will be removed gradually.

Silver futures for May delivery rose 1.8 percent to $20.05 an ounce on the Comex. The price reached $20.145, the highest for a most-active contract in a week.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, platinum futures for July delivery advanced 0.6 percent to $1,438.70 an ounce.

Palladium futures for June delivery gained 0.7 percent to $787.80 an ounce. On March 24, the price reached $802.45 last month, the highest since August 2011.

More than 70,000 members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union have been on strike since Jan. 23 at mines in South Africa, the top platinum producer.

The association said it will march to the Johannesburg offices of Lonmin Plc tomorrow. Anglo American Platinum Ltd. said it is considering whether to keep mines in the Rustenburg area hit by strikes.

--With assistance from Phoebe Sedgman in Melbourne and Glenys Sim in Singapore.