Gold Trades Near Five-Week High as Platinum Climbs on Stoppages

Gold traded near a five-week high in London as investors weighed signs of increasing physical demand against the outlook for less U.S. stimulus. Platinum rose to the highest since November on prospects for strikes in South Africa.

Bullion posted a fourth weekly gain on Jan. 17 in the longest rally since September 2012, on signs of increased demand in China and as holdings in gold-backed funds rose the most in more than a year on Jan. 17. The U.S. Mint sold 83,500 ounces of American Eagle gold coins so far in January, heading for the biggest monthly total since April, data from the mint show.

Federal Reserve policy makers said on Dec. 18 they would cut monthly bond purchases to $75 billion from $85 billion, with the pace of further reductions dependent on the performance of the economy. Policy makers next meet Jan. 28-29. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, a measure against 10 major currencies, traded below a four-month high set Jan. 17.

“Strong demand from China continues to offer support on the downside but in our view, the strength of this buying is unlikely to last much beyond the Lunar New Year” at the end of this month, Barclays Plc wrote in a report today. “We continue to expect the Fed to keep tapering asset purchases at a measured pace and the U.S. dollar to strengthen in the medium term.”

Gold for immediate delivery gained less than 0.1 percent to close at $1,254.66 an ounce in London. It reached $1,265.35, the highest since Dec. 10.

U.S. markets were closed today for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Gold Demand

Bullion rebounded from a six-month low of $1,182.52 on Dec. 31. China, which probably overtook India as the largest user last year, celebrates the Lunar New Year on Jan. 31, when consumers traditionally increase gold purchases.

Holdings in gold-backed exchange-traded products rose 7.4 metric tons on Jan. 17, the biggest increase since October 2012, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Assets gained from the lowest level since October 2009. Hedge funds and other speculators raised their bets on higher prices by 7.6 percent to an eight-week high of 43,277 contracts in the week ended Jan. 14, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show.

Silver for immediate delivery added 0.1 percent to $20.32 an ounce. Palladium gained 0.1 percent to $749.20 an ounce, after rising to $752.85 on Jan. 17, the highest price since Nov. 12. Platinum climbed 1 percent to $1,469 an ounce, and reached $1,472, the highest since Nov. 7. An ounce of platinum bought as much as 1.17 ounces of gold, the most since June 2011.

At least 70,000 members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union plan to walk out over pay on Jan. 23 at mines in South Africa’s platinum belt run by Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Impala Platinum Ltd. and Lonmin Plc. The area accounts for about 70 percent of global output of the metal.

Gold producers, where the AMCU has about 20,000 members, including at AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., also confirmed through an industry group they’ve been told of the strike.

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