Gold futures topped $1,400 an ounce and silver climbed to a 30-year high as the dollar’s slump boosted the appeal of precious metals as alternative investments. Palladium had the biggest weekly gain since 2008.
The greenback headed for the biggest drop in six weeks after a U.S. government report showed employers added fewer jobs than forecast in November and the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent, suggesting that the Federal Reserve will keep pumping money into the financial system to bolster the economy. Gold reached a record $1,424.30 on Nov. 9.
“Ongoing economic uncertainty and the possibility of more quantitative easing needed to counter high unemployment and stagnation in an economic recovery are a solid ground for gold investment,” said Bayram Dincer, an analyst at LGT Capital Management in Pfaeffikon, Switzerland.
Gold futures for February delivery jumped $16.90, or 1.2 percent, to close at $1,406.20 at 2:15 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Earlier, the price reached $1,409.90, the highest since Nov. 12. This week, the metal gained up 3.1 percent, the most since late May.
Silver futures for March delivery climbed 69.9 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $29.271 an ounce. Earlier, the metal reached $29.37, the highest since March 1980. This week, the price jumped 9.3 percent, the most since January.
Gold also gained on speculation China, the world’s second-biggest buyer, will step up purchases.
China’s imports jumped almost fivefold in the 10 months ended Oct. 31 from a year earlier on inflation concerns, the Shanghai Gold Exchange said yesterday. The country should consider adding to gold reserves to pave the way for internationalization of the yuan, Xia Bin, an adviser to the central bank, said in commentary in the China Business News.
“In the mid- and longer-term, I think China is the biggest bullish factor for gold prices,” said Yuichi Ikemizu, the head of commodity trading at Standard Bank Plc in Tokyo.
Gold has gained 28 percent this year, heading for the 10th straight annual gain and the biggest since 2007.
Silver has jumped 74 percent in 2010, heading for the biggest annual increase since 1979.
Palladium futures for March delivery gained $6.40, or 0.8 percent, to $770.10 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, the price reached $780, the highest since April 2001. This week, the metal jumped 13 percent, the most since October 2008.
Platinum futures for January delivery rose $15.40, or 0.9 percent, to $1,728.50 an ounce. This week, the price gained 5.1 percent, the most since mid-September.
This year, palladium has soared 88 percent, and platinum has climbed 18 percent. The metals are used in jewelry and pollution-control devices in cars.