Gold futures recovered from the biggest drop in six weeks as signs of slowing economic growth from China to the U.S. spurred demand for haven assets.
Purchases of new U.S. homes slumped more than forecast in March, while manufacturing slowed in the euro area and China in April, separate reports showed Thursday. The economic data reignited demand for gold after prices on Wednesday fell the most in six weeks amid positive figures for American housing.
Signs of uneven growth in the U.S. have prompted speculation that the Federal Reserve will wait longer to raise interest rates, while central banks in Europe and Asia have expanded stimulus efforts to combat the slowdown. Investors increased their holdings in exchange-traded funds backed by gold for four straight sessions, and the assets are poised to rise in April for the third time in four months.
“Gold is getting some safe-haven support because of bad economic data across the globe,” Chris Gaffney, president at EverBank World Markets in St. Louis. “We are seeing some flight to gold, but a lot depends on the equity market.”
Gold futures for June delivery added 0.6 percent to settle at $1,194.30 an ounce at 1:45 p.m. on the Comex in New York. The metal is heading for the first monthly gain since January amid the global economic concerns.
Futures dropped 29 percent in the previous two years as the dollar surged and inflation remained muted. Prices climbed 70 percent from December 2008 to June 2011 partly as the Fed held rates near a record low. Higher rates boost the appeal of assets with better yield prospects such as bonds and equities, while cutting the allure of gold, which generally offers returns only through price gains.
The metal fell 2.5 percent in March as the greenback climbed for the ninth straight month. The dollar declined as much as 0.7 percent against a basket of 10 currencies on Thursday.
Silver futures for May delivery added 0.2 percent to $15.829 an ounce on the Comex.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, platinum futures for July delivery advanced 0.6 percent to $1,136.70 an ounce. Palladium futures for June delivery gained 1.9 percent to $769.90 an ounce, the biggest jump since April 6.