Gold Advances for First Time in Three Days on U.S. Retail Sales

Gold futures rose for the first time in three days as U.S. retail sales in January fell more than forecast, signaling a cooling economy and increasing demand for the precious metal as a haven.

The 0.8 percent drop in retail sales followed a 0.9 percent decrease in December, government data showed Thursday. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.4 percent decline. Gold also gained as applications for unemployment benefits climbed more than forecast, Labor Department figures showed.

The metal rose 8 percent in January, partly as a decline in global equities boosted demand for alternative assets. Holdings in exchange-traded products backed by gold have advanced 4.9 percent this year amid turmoil in currency markets.

“The weak U.S. data in retail sales, especially core retail sales, and the jump in jobless claims above 300,000 has pushed gold modestly higher,” Tai Wong, the director of commodity products trading at BMO Capital Markets Corp. in New York, said in a telephone interview. “On the margin, it pushes back the time line” for the Federal Reserve to boost interest rates, he said.

Gold futures for April delivery rose 0.1 percent to settle at $1,220.70 an ounce at 1:40 p.m. on the Comex in New York. The price dropped 1.8 percent in the previous two sessions. The metal has advanced 3.1 percent this year.

Euro-region finance ministers failed to reach an agreement on how to keep funds flowing to Greece, and are set to resume talks next week. The impasse risks leaving the region’s most-indebted nation without funding by the end of this month, when the current bailout expires.

The dollar fell as much as 1.2 percent against a basket of 10 currencies. On Wednesday, the gauge reached the highest since at least December 2004.

Silver futures for March delivery gained 0.2 percent to $16.794 an ounce, rising for the first time in three days.

Platinum futures for April delivery added 0.4 percent to $1,200.50 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, snapping a four-session losing streak. Palladium futures for March delivery climbed 0.9 percent to $773.65 an ounce, the biggest gain in more than a week.

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