May 22 (Bloomberg) -- Gold futures rose after U.S. jobless claims increased more than forecast, boosting demand for the metal as a haven. Palladium climbed to a 33-month high on supply concerns, and platinum jumped to the highest since September.
U.S. jobless claims increased to 326,000 in the week ended May 17, government figures showed today. The median forecast of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a rise to 310,000. This year, gold has gained 7.7 percent, partly on concern that the economic recovery was fragile.
Yesterday, gold fell as much as 0.9 percent as Federal Reserve minutes showed policy makers said that continued stimulus to push unemployment lower doesn’t risk sparking an undesirable jump in inflation. Some members said the Fed should communicate its strategy more clearly as it moves closer toward increasing interest rates.
“Today’s data shows that the job market is struggling and rate hikes may be far away,” Chris Gaffney, the senior market strategist at EverBank Wealth Management in St. Louis, said in a telephone interview. “‘There is some safe-haven buying.’’
Gold futures for August delivery rose 0.5 percent to settle at $1,295.20 an ounce at 1:37 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest increase for a most-active contract since May 14.
The Fed pared its monthly asset buying to $45 billion in April, its fourth straight $10 billion cut. Gold climbed 70 percent from December 2008 to June 2011 as the Fed bought debt and held borrowing costs near zero percent.
Imports by India will probably rise after the nation’s central bank allowed more firms to buy metal from overseas, the All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation said. India was replaced by China as the biggest gold user last year after the government curbed shipments.
India’s imports may expand by 10 metric tons to 15 tons a month, the federation said, without giving total monthly numbers. Shipments may double in the next few months, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. said in a report.
‘‘We are seeing some physical buying because of optimism about India,” Gaffney said.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, palladium futures for June delivery rose 0.7 percent to $836.45 an ounce. Earlier, the price reached $839.55, the highest since Aug. 1, 2011. Trading almost tripled compared with the 100-day average for this time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
South Africa, Russia
This year, the price has climbed 16 percent this year as a strike at mining companies crippled production in South Africa, the second-biggest producer. Russia, the top supplier, faced more sanctions from the U.S. and Europe over Ukraine.
Platinum futures for July delivery rose 1.2 percent to $1,493.10 an ounce on the Nymex. Earlier, the price reached $1,497.80, the highest since Sept. 9. South Africa is the top producer.
Holdings in exchange-traded funds backed by platinum and palladium climbed to records yesterday.
In South Africa, more than 70,000 miners who are members of the main union at Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Lonmin Plc halted work since Jan. 23 in a wage distpute. Violence has escalated this month.
The companies and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union are in the second day of a three-day led mediation led by a judge.
Silver futures for July delivery gained 0.9 percent to $19.52 an ounce on the Comex.
--With assistance from Kevin Crowley and Ana Monteiro in Johannesburg.